February 25, 2009

U.S. home sales fell in January

Existing U.S. home sales fell by a seasonally adjusted 5.3 percent in January, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

Sales of single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops declined to an annual rate of 4.49 million units in the month compared with December's 4.74 million, the association said. Sales also came in 8.6 percent lower than a year ago, the NAR said.

Given so much stimulus package discussion in January, some would-be buyers simply sat out for clarity and certainty on the nature of housing stimulus, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

The housing market will soon get a lift from very favorable buying conditions, he said, noting improved affordability figures, $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credits, and higher conforming loan limits.

Those factors will allow more people to tap into 50-year low mortgage rates, he said.

Although sales fell, the housing market inventory fell 2.7 percent in January, with 3.6 million homes on the market, representing a 9.6-month supply under current pricing conditions.