September was a good month for existing home sales, at least as things have gone in recent years. Sales were up a whopping 71 percent from last September and were even 18 percent higher than in September 2006.

The inventory of resale homes on the market was also improved, down 18 percent from a year prior.

This made for another big improvement of the months-of-inventory figure, which measures how fast homes are selling in comparison to how many homes are on the market. There were just over 6 months’ worth of inventory in September — a level that is typically considered normal.

Beneath the surface, however, the market is anything but normal. “Must-sell” inventory continues to dominate and, per Kelly Bennett‘s latest, it appears that there is plenty more to come.

Foreclosure sanctuaries and other forms of government intervention may change this course of events at some point in the future. But until must-sell inventory become less of a factor, the seemingly normal ratio between supply and demand will continue to mask some serious non-normality.

— RICH TOSCANO

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