Existing home sales in US Northeast set to slow for rest of 2012 as a result of Hurricane Sandy; closures likely to be delayed by bank disruptions, blackouts, problems with real estate listing services

NEW YORK , November 2, 2012 () – Existing-home sales, a market indicator followed by economists and analysts, probably will slow in the U.S. Northeast for the rest of 2012 as superstorm Sandy disrupts deals, the National Association of Realtors said. “Closings may be delayed, and a lot occur at the end of the month,” Walter Molony, a spokesman for the group, which is scheduled to report October sales on Nov. 19, said in a telephone interview from Washington. “In theory, you wouldn’t see the impact just in October sales. You’d see it in subsequent months.”

Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, knocking out power, communications and transportation services in parts of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and other northeastern states. Some local multiple listing services that supply data to the Chicago-based Realtors association may be incapacitated, while sales elsewhere won’t be completed because of bank and other business disruptions, Molony said.

An index of pending home sales for September jumped 26 percent in the Northeast, the biggest gain of any region, the Realtors association reported Oct. 25. Contracts to buy existing homes increased 15 percent nationwide, the 17th consecutive increase from a year earlier.

Existing homes sold at an annual pace of 4.75 million nationwide in September, up 11 percent from a year earlier and the 15th consecutive increase on an annual basis, according to the group. The Northeast accounted for 12 percent of U.S. sales in September.

Sandy inflicted as much as $50 billion in damage, according to Eqecat Inc., a provider of catastrophic risk models. Homes accounted for about 55 percent of the insured property hurt by the storm. About 34 percent of the damage occurred in New York, 30 percent in New Jersey, 20 percent in Pennsylvania and the remainder in other states hit by Sandy, Eqecat reported yesterday.

--Editors: Daniel Taub, Christine Maurus

To contact the reporter on this story: John Gittelsohn in Los Angeles at johngitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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