Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Existing home sales fell 2 percent in March

Existing home sales fell 2 percent in March

The pace of existing home sales in the United States fell two percent in March to a 4.93 million-unit annual rate, the National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday in a report that showed the U.S. housing market continues to struggle.

Economists polled by Reuters were expecting home resales to fall to a 4.92 million-unit pace, off from the February rate of 5.03 million that was left unchanged.

The inventory of homes for sale swelled by 40,000 to 4.06 million homes, or a 9.9 months' supply at the current sales pace from 9.6 months in February. Meanwhile, the median national home price declined 7.7 percent from a year ago to

$200,700.

The drop in home values nationwide has pushed many borrowers toward foreclosure and upset lending standards in many markets.

Of the homes for sale, 18 percent have negative equity and so are either in foreclosure proceedings or headed for a 'short sale' that will see the lender write off some of the original loan amount.

"This has been a frustration of our members," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. "Lenders have been dragging their feet (in approving short sales)."

U.S. Treasuries eased after the housing data showed a smaller-than-expected slide.

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