Existing-home sales down in December

Existing-home sales declined 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units in December from a pace of 5 million units in November, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

These results, which followed several months of stable activity, also represented a 22 percent decline from the 6.27 million-unit level in December 2006.

The total of 5,652,000 existing home sales in 2007 was the fifth highest on record. However, this number was 12.8 percent below the 6,478,000 transactions recorded in 2006.

Existing-home sales include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

“Home sales remain weak despite improved affordability conditions in many parts of the country, but we could get a quick boost to the market if loan limits are raised in combination with the bold cut in the Fed funds rate,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

Regionally, the Northeast was hit the hardest, with existing-home sales dipping 4.6 percent to an annual rate of 830,000 (22.4 percent below a year ago). In the West, existing-home sales fell 2.1 percent to an annual rate of 940,000 (24.8 percent below December 2006). Existing-home sales in the Midwest declined 1.7 percent in December to a level of 1.16 million (20.5 percent below a year ago). And in the South, sales were down 1 percent to an annual pace of 1.97 million in December (down 20.9 percent from a year ago).

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