Thursday, April 22, 2010

Existing U.S. Home Sales Climb to 5.35 Million Rate


Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. rose in March for the first time in four months as buyers took advantage of a government tax credit and the weather improved.

Purchases climbed 6.8 percent to a 5.35 million annual rate, more than anticipated, from a 5.01 million pace in February, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. The median prices climbed 0.4 percent from March 2009.

The thawing out from February’s blizzards probably helped the market last month, while the Obama administration’s credit worth up to $8,000 may keep underpinning demand through June, when it’s next due to lapse. The outlook for the second half of the year depends on the speed and magnitude of the recovery in the job market, indicating the housing rebound may be slow to develop.

“You have some fundamental improvement in housing,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. Inc. in Pittsburgh. “Housing is coming back. It’s still got a long way to go.”

Existing home sales were forecast to rise to a 5.29 million annual rate, according to the median estimate of 76, economists in a Bloomberg News survey, from a previously reported 5.02 million rate in February. Projections ranged from 5.05 million to 5.5 million.

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