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Added 02/02/07  

US sales down but hopes still rise

Overseas property investment news - Fly to letPredictions that the US housing market may have passed its latest nadir have not been borne out by December existing home sales returns. But US estate agents are still hopeful.

The month saw a seasonally adjusted 0.8 per cent dip in the seasonally adjusted sales of existing single family homes, including town houses, condominiums and co-ops between November and December. The month was also 7.9 per cent down on the same month in 2005.

Throughout the year there were 6.5m existing home sales in all of 2006, down 8.4 per cent on the record 7.1 homes sold in the 2005 calendar year.

'Despite all of the doom and gloom stories and dire predictions over the last year, 2006 was the third strongest year on record for existing home sales’, said NAR chief economist David Lereah. ‘It looks like we’re moving beyond the low for the housing cycle last fall, and buyers are responding to historically low interest rates and competitive pricing by home sellers. In addition, a tightening inventory of homes on the market is supporting prices’.

NAR put the December national median existing home price for all housing types at £113,300, which was unchanged from December 2005.

Single family home sales slipped 1.3 per cent on the month and were down 7.2 per cent on December 2005. The median existing single family home price was £113,100.

December, which was unchanged from a year ago. For all of 2006, the median single-family price was $222,000, up 1.4 percent from 2005.

Existing condominium and cooperative housing sales rose 2.1 per cent on the month but were 12.2 per cent down on December 2005. The median existing condo price was put at £115,900, 0.3 per cent down on December 2005.

Florida’s housing market mirrored the national trend in 2006, with sales of existing single-family homes slowing to ‘a more sustainable pace following a five-year run of record closings’, said the Florida Association of Realtors.

It logged a 28 per cent fall in existing home sales during 2006 but a 6 per cent increase in prices to an average of £120,100,200.

‘The housing market transitioned to a more sustainable balance during 2006, coming off the record-setting sales pace and price gains of the previous five years’, said FAR president Nancy Riley. ‘With mortgage rates continuing to remain historically low, stable home prices and at last, some inventory, now is the time to take advantage of the homeownership opportunities we have throughout the Sunshine State’.

In California home sales were down 15.3 per cent on the previous December while the median price was up 3.7 per cent.

'The market continues to level out as buyers and sellers search for common ground in today’s more balanced environment’, said California Association of Realtors president Colleen Badagliacco. ‘The number of homes for sale peaked in June and July and has since edged downward. Although time on the market remains higher than it was a year ago, competitively priced homes continue to sell well’.


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