Industry News

U.S. existing-home sales decline

NAR urges raising loan limits to stabilize housing, economy

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Existing-home sales and prices dropped in December, the National Association of Realtors reported today, adding fuel to the trade group's argument that President Bush and Congress need to increase the conforming loan limits on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to jumpstart home buying and help the economy avoid recession. December sales of existing homes -- including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops -- slipped 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units from a pace of 5 million in November, and were 22 percent below the 6.27 million-unit level in December 2006. For all of 2007 there were 5.65 million existing-home sales, the fifth-highest year on record; however, the total was 12.8 percent below the 6.47 million transactions recorded in 2006. Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said the market is experiencing uncharacteristic weakness. "Home sales remain weak despite improved affordability conditions in many parts...