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Home Sales Slow Before Expected Improvement

Sales of previously owned homes fell 1 percent in December, according to newly released numbers from the National Association of Realtors. The decline was driven by slower sales in the Midwest and South, while sales increased in the West and were flat in the Northeast. Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, says improvement is on the way. “The latest month's sales look to be the bottom before inevitably turning higher in the new year,” Yun said. “Mortgage rates are meaningfully lower compared to just two months ago, and more inventory is expected to appear on the market in upcoming months.” As it is, the number of existing homes available for sale was 4.2 percent higher than year-before numbers at the end of December. But while the year-over-year improvement is positive, inventory is still low. In fact, the NAR's report found a 3.2-month supply of unsold homes available at the end of the month. A 6-month supply is considered healthy for the housing market.

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