September sales of previously owned homes rose 3.2 percent from the month before, according to new numbers released by the National Association of Realtors. The gains were a welcome change after a two-month slide. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said the improvement was due to a boost in the number of first-time home buyers active near the end of summer. “The home search over the past several months for a lot of prospective buyers, and especially for first-time buyers, took longer than usual because of competition for the minimal amount of homes for sale,” Yun said. “Most families and move-up buyers look to close before the new school year starts. Their diminishing presence from the market towards the end of summer created more opportunities for aspiring first-time homeowners to buy last month.” In fact, the share of first-time buyers rose to 34 percent in September. That’s the highest it’s been since July 2012. Historically, new home buyers represent closer to 40 percent of all home sales. Because there have been fewer first timers active in the market recently, an increasing number is seen as good news and vital to housing’s health. Also encouraging, the number of homes available for sale rose in September. At the end of the month, inventory was 1.5 percent higher than the month before. More here.