- - Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sales of existing homes in October were up 16 percent over October 2010, as buyers continue to take advantage of lower home prices and very attractive mortgage interest rates.

October sales also were higher than September’s, a phenomenon known as the “October bounce,” which happens more often than not. Why does it happen? I think October may be a kind of lull between the storms.

You see, Washington-area home sales are always strongest in the spring. You can see in today’s charts how sales really take off in March, April and May.

But then things slow a bit in the summer. Many homebuyers want to get moved in before school begins for their children in September, so that motivates many to buy in the spring and summer.

September is far too busy to worry about home shopping. You are just back from August vacation, Congress is back in session, and the children are starting school. Looking for a home isn’t always a priority.

Once school is under way and the dust settles a bit, perhaps October seems like a good time for buyers to get back out there. November and December, after all, will be too hectic with the holidays and all. Besides, who wants to move furniture with snow on the ground? October is kind of the last-chance month of the year, I think, for many area home shoppers.

Overall, sales this October were 10 percent higher than in September and 16 percent higher than last October.

The most significant increase in sales was in Maryland. Sales there were 25 percent higher than in October 2010, while sales in Virginia were up by 7 percent.

After October’s modest boost of activity, we can expect to experience a slide in sales in November and December. January is sometimes a big sales month, but weather usually determines whether the sales year really gets going in January or in February.

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