According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing home sales in July plunged following expiration of the home buyer tax credit and a slowdown in the U.S. economic recovery, but home prices continued to gain.

Existing home sales, completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 27.2 percent in July from the June pace -- almost twice the drop analysts had predicted -- and are 25.5 percent below the level in July 2009. Single family home sales, which account for the bulk of transactions, are at the lowest level since May of 1995. Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast dropped 29.5 percent to an annual pace of 620,000 in July and are 30.3 percent lower than a year ago.

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder said there are great opportunities now for buyers who weren't able to take advantage of the tax credit.

"Mortgage interest rates are at record lows, home prices have firmed and there is good selection of property in most areas, so buyers with good jobs and favorable credit ratings find themselves in a fortunate position," she said.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.56 percent in July from 4.74 percent in June; the rate was 5.22 percent in July 2009. Last week, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed was down to 4.42 percent.

Transactions at a glance

In order of worth, these are some of the Westport and Weston homes that changed hands recently.

1. A new 10,400-square-foot Colonial on 2 acres at 5 Flower Farm Lane in Westport sold for $4,750,000. This property features five bedrooms, six full and two half baths, a pool and cabana.

2. A 6-year-old Colonial on .4 acres at 8 Burnham Hill in Westport sold for $2,800,000. This property features five bedrooms and six full and two half baths. It previously sold for $2,450,000 on May 18, 2004.

3. A new 6,500-square-foot Colonial on 2 acres at 118 Good Hill Road in Weston sold for $2,400,000. This property features five bedrooms and four full and one half baths.

4. An 11-year-old Colonial on 1.02 acres at 19 Red Coat Road in Westport sold for $2,075,000. This property features five bedrooms, four full and one half baths and a pool. It previously sold for $1,750,000 on Dec. 20, 1999.

5. A 6-year-old Colonial on 1.5 acres at 29 Silver Brook Road in Westport sold for $1,950,000. This property features five bedrooms and five full and two half baths. It previously sold for $2,399,000 on July 15, 2005.

6. A 40-year-old Colonial on 1 acre at 18 Whippoorwill Lane in Westport sold for $1,850,000. This property features four bedrooms and four full and two half baths.

7. A 60-year-old Colonial on 1 acre at 34 Sturges Commons in Westport sold for $1,835,000. This property features six bedrooms, five full and two half baths and a pool. It previously sold for $1,605,000 on April 28, 2003.

8. A 4-year-old Colonial on .66 acre at 13 Hillandale Road in Westport sold for $1,724,000. This property features four bedrooms and four full and two half baths. It previously sold for $1,830,000 on May 25, 2007.

9. A 23-year-old Colonial on 1.09 acres at 6 Paddock Lane in Westport sold for $1,630,000. This property features five bedrooms, three full and one half baths and a pool.

10. An 82-year-old Colonial on .37 acre at 17 Edgewater Hillside in Westport sold for $1,450,000. This property features four bedrooms and three full and one half baths. It previously sold for $1,775,000 on Aug. 17, 2007.

Sarita Solomon, a licensed sales agent at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Westport, can be reached at 203-682-0889 or saritasolomon@gmail.com. You can also read her column online at www.westport-news.com