Sales of existing single-family homes were down in January from near-record highs but remain exceptionally strong, according to the National Association of Realtors. Existing-home sales declined 5.2 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.04 million units from a downwardly revised level of 6.37 million in December, which was the third-highest pace on record. Last month's sales activity was 2 percent above the 5.92 million-unit pace in January 2003. The record was a 6.68 million sales rate in September 2003. David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said monthly changes at this volume of home sales are relative. "We have to keep in mind that the level of home-sales activity over the last six months has been the strongest on record," he said. "The January pace was the sixth-highest ever and is above the total forecast for this year. We can expect month-to-month ups and downs, but the long-term trend is for home sales to stay close to record territory this year. "Give...
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