Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Sales, prices, builder confidence slide

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With third-quarter home sales and prices off considerably from a year ago and builder sentiment flatlining, industry groups hope Congress will pass legislation quickly to stem the tide. According to the National Association of Realtors, four out of five metropolitan areas recorded lower home prices in the third quarter from a year earlier, while sales of existing homes fell in 32 states from the second quarter. To jumpstart sales and stabilize prices, NAR recently signed off on a real estate stimulus proposal that includes a temporary $7,500 tax credit for all buyers, with no repayment requirement, and a temporary federal buy-down of mortgage rates to 4.5 percent or less. The group's plan also calls upon the federal government to make permanent the temporary increase in FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits to $729,750 in high-cost areas. The limits are scheduled to roll back to $625,000 on Jan. 1. Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said in a press statement, "...