March 23rd, 2010
10:29 AM ET

Existing home sales slip in February

Sales of existing homes fell slightly in February, according to an industry report released Tuesday, a sign that the housing market's recovery remains fragile.

The National Association of Realtors reported that home resales fell 0.6% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.02 million units. That's
down from a rate of 5.05 million in January. Still, sales are 7% higher than in February 2009, when homes were selling at an annual rate of the 4.69 million units.

Last month's figures came in slightly above analyst expectations. Existing home sales were forecast to fall to an annual rate of 5.0 million
units, according to consensus estimates.

"Some closings were simply postponed by winter storms, says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, "but buyers couldn't get out to look at homes in some areas and that should negatively impact near term contract activity."

Yun added that sales have been higher on a year-over-year basis for eight straight months. Analysts had expected sales to pick up as the new homebuyer tax credit deadline closes in.

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