WASHINGTON--The market for existing single-family home sales fell in September as the nation reacted to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Existing-home sales dropped 11.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units in September from an upwardly revised pace of 5.54 million units in August, which was an all-time record. Last month's sales activity was 5.2% below the 5.16-million unit pace in September 2000.

Dr. David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said a falloff was expected. ``Considering the nation essentially came to a halt during the week of the attack, we knew there would be a hit on home sales activity,'' he said.

The NAR projects total sales for this year at 5.19 million, an increase of more than 1% from 2000, which will be the second highest total for existing-home sales on record.

NAR President Richard A. Mendenhall said affordability conditions continue to improve.

Regionally, existing homes in the Midwest were selling at an annual rate of 1.08 million units in September, down 9.2% from August, while the existing-home sales pace in the South fell 11.5% in September. The median price of homes in these areas were $131,000 and $136,800, respectively.

Home resales in the West dropped 12.2% in September. The median existing-home price in the West was $200,600. Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 14.5% in September. The median existing-home price in the Northeast was $140,300.