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September Home Sales Fall as Prices Keep Rising

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Existing U.S. home sales fell in September on higher prices and rising interest rates according to the National Association of Realtors.

Home sales fell 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million in September from 5.39 million in August, the NAR reported. Sales hit their highest level in four years in August.

The median price for existing homes was $199,200 in September, up 11.7% from September 2012. That marks 10 straight months of double-digit year-over-year increases, NAR reported. Foreclosures and short sales accounted 14% of September sales, up from 12% in August. They were 24% in September 2012.

The NAR cited rising interest rates as part of the reason for the decline in sales. Citing Freddie Mac, the NAR said a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.49% in September from 4.46% in August. That is the highest since July 2011 when it was 4.55%. The rate was 3.47% in September 2012.

Low inventories have also contributed to the price rise, the NAR said. Inventories remained unchanged for the month at 2.21 million existing homes available for sale.

The biggest listing price rises came in the Detroit and Las Vegas metropolitan areas, which were up 44.6% and 30.7%. respectively.

Stocks moved slightly lower shortly after the report was released at 10:00 a.m. EDT, but were essentially flat on the day, with the Nasdaq up 0.19% and the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average lower by 0.03% and 0.12% respectively.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.