Sunday, May 25, 2008

AP: Existing home sales continue slide in April

The following appeared on page 2C of the Saturday May 24, 2008 issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Existing home sales fell for the eighth time in the past nine months, a string of weakness expected to continue as the housing industry, mired in its worst slump in decades, battles falling home prices, tight lending conditions and a weak economy.

The National Association of Realtors reported Friday that existing home sales dropped by 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units, matching the all time low set in January. These records, which cover single-family homes and condominiums, go back to 1999.

The median price for an existing home dropped 8 percent, compared with a year ago, to $202,300. It was the second largest price decline on record and analysts predicted prices would fall further in the months ahead given the huge backlog of unsold single-family homes.

The number of unsold single-family homes in April rose to a 10.7 months suply at the current sales pace, the highest level since June 1985.

As prices fall, it keeps more people sitting on the fence, analysts said, because prospective buyers don't want to purchase an asset that has the potential to fall further in price if they delay making the purchase.

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