24 March 2008 16:29 [Source: ICIS news]
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that sales of single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums rose 2.9% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of slightly more than 5m units compared with 4.89m units in January.
However, the association noted that February’s level of home sales was still nearly 24% below the 6.6m unit rate of existing home sales seen in February 2007.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the home sales upturn in February “is a sign that the market is stabilising”.
He cautioned that while the February increase is encouraging, “we’re not expecting a notable gain in existing home sales until the second half of this year”.
Yun said the decline in home prices - which have been on a downward trend matching the more or less steady fall in home sales since late 2005 - along with new increases in federal mortgage loan limits has unleashed some pent-up housing demand.
The national median existing home price was $195,000 (€126,700) in February, down 8.2% from the same month a year ago when the median price was $213,500, the association said.
“One swallow does not make a Spring,” NAR spokesman Walt Molony said, adding that “We don’t want to read too much into one month’s figures, but this certainly is a hopeful sign.”
Molony said the
Yun noted that in about half of the
($1 = €0.65)
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