Mortgage applications are down too.
This is the first time since July that loan requests dropped for the first time six weeks.
The housing market has apparently stabilized after three years of plunging prices. This was the steepest plunge since the Great Depression.
Pending home sales are up.
Economic stimulus that has boosted consumer optimism, signs that home prices have neared a bottom, and federal programs such as a soon-expiring first-time home buyers tax credit have turned more fence-sitters into house purchasers, industry experts said.
The NAR estimates that as many as 2 million first-time buyers will use the tax credit this year, and about 350,000 sales would not have occurred without it. Buyers need to close their loans by November 30 to qualify.
Sherry Chris, president and chief executive of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Parsippany, New Jersey, expects a rush of applications in the waning weeks of the tax credit.