A Guide To Today's Housing Market

The once-booming housing market has slowed. The median price of a previously owned home fell last month for the first time in 11 years, and inventories of unsold homes swelled to levels not seen in more than a decade, the National Association of Realtors reported.

What are existing-home sales by region?

To see home sales by region, click here.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 1.9 percent to a pace of 1.07 million in August, but were 11.6 percent below August 2005. The median existing-home price in the Northeast was $271,000, down 3.9 percent from a year earlier.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 0.7 percent in August to a level of 1.44 million, but were 11.1 percent lower than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $176,000, 1.1 percent below August 2005.

Existing-home sales in the South slipped 0.8 percent to an annual sales rate of 2.51 million units in August, and were 7.4 percent below August 2005. The median price in the South was $184,000, down 2.6 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West dropped 2.3 percent to an annual pace of 1.29 million in August, and were 22.8 percent lower than a year earlier. The median price in the West was $345,000, up 0.3 percent from August 2005.

Read more about the drop in existing home sales.

What is the national median home price?
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $225,000 in August, down 1.7 percent from August 2005, when the median was $229,000. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less. "This is the price correction we've been expecting – with sales stabilizing, we should go back to positive price growth early next year," David Lereah, NAR's chief economist said.

Why are houses staying on the market?

In some cases, sellers haven't priced their homes to the current market conditions. "In some areas, home sellers are not making sufficient adjustments in their listing price, so their homes are staying on the market and contributing to the build up in inventory," said NAR President Thomas M. Stevens.

How are housing prices affecting mortgages?

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 6.52 percent in August, down from 6.76 percent in July; the rate was 5.82 percent in August 2005. Last week, the 30-year fixed dropped to 6.40 percent.

To learn more about the housing market:

• Financial expert Ray Martin discusses the pitfalls of adjustable rate mortgages here.

• Click here to read more from the National Association of Realtors' blog.

• For an interactive feature on the economy, click here.