WILMINGTON -- The National Association of Realtors confirmed today what many people trying to sell their homes already know all too well: times are tough. Sales of existing homes last month were off by their largest margin in eight years. The latest report shows sales of pre-owned homes dropping by a full eight percent in just one month -- a precipitous and unprecedented drop. Experts say the big fall off in existing home sales is a result of the credit collapse in August. They say people across the country -- especially those looking for mortgage loans of more than $417,000 -- had a hard time nailing down financing. Realtors say these "jumbo" loan problems were especially evident in areas of the country where home values have soared in the past few years. The northeast and west coast both posted sales declines of 10 percent last month. With sales dropping so sharply sellers cut prices to attract more buyers. The median national home price was down more than four percent from last year. The National Association of Realtors is now saying that they expect prices to post a 1.5 percent decline for the full calendar year. If that happens it would be the first time in 40 years that prices have declined nationally. Locally, Jonathan Barfield, president of the Wilmington Realtor's Association says September sales were slower than August. Barfield adds that the fall months are traditionally slower, though, and he expects things to pick back up again with the start of the New Year.
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