National and regional home sales slipped predictably in September as the peak summer sales period waned, according to an index by the National Association of Realtors that measures pending sales.
The group's pending home sales index fell 4.6 percent nationally in September, and 6.2 percent in the Midwest, the NAR said. However, pending sales remain 6.4 percent higher nationally and 12.3 percent higher regionally than in September 2010.
Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist, said in a statement that the housing market is being constrained.
"A combination of weak consumer confidence and continued tight lending criteria held back home buyers, even though the private sector added nearly 2 million net new jobs in the past 12 months," he said.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The national trend fits September sales figures from the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, where sales tailed off but remain ahead of last year's pace.
A total of 693 new and existing homes were sold in September, down from 752 in August but still about 15 percent ahead of the 606 sold in September 2010 as sales slumped after the end of the government's second homebuyer tax credit program.
Nonetheless, Wichita brokers are happy with the beginning of the slow season.
"We always expect a slower period right now," said Willie Kihle, president of Prudential Dinning-Beard Realtors in Wichita.
"And August was a very good month for us, so it's not unusual here for a good month to be followed by a little slower month."
Most sectors of the market are performing steadily, said Penny Johnson of Keller Williams Signature Partners in Wichita.
"We're up over last year, and we're very pleased to be holding our own," Johnson said. "The market isn't booming, but it's not dead either."
Johnson said business is spread among most sectors of the Wichita home market.
"I think people are always going to need to move," she said. "Marriage, jobs, things like that."
Nationally, Yun is calling for higher loan limits and urging banks to loan more money to stimulate the market.
"America's monetary policy is contradictory and confusing, where some consumers with the best financial capacity and top-notch credit scores pay higher mortgage interest rates," he said in his statement.
"Just leaving excessive cash to sit in banks and not work into the economy is a drag on the overall recovery," he said. "We need a comprehensive approach to address housing issues — not additional impediments."