Is the Housing Market Entering a Deep Freeze?

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After posting the best year since before the Great Recession, existing-home sales continued their downward trend last month to reach their worst level in a year-and-a-half. Making matters worse, first-time homebuyers are being pushed out of the market as prices climb higher.

The National Association of Realtors announced Friday that total existing-home sales – which are completed transactions of single-family homes, town homes, condos, and co-ops — dropped 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million units in January compared to 4.87 million units in the previous month. Keeping with the general tone of recent housing news, the results were weaker than expected.

Economists estimated an annual pace of about 4.68 million units. Sales have now missed expectations for seven consecutive months. Furthermore, sales are also 5.1 percent below the 4.87-million-unit pace seen in January 2013. This is the third consecutive month that sales were below year-ago levels, and last month was the slowest since July 2012, when sales stood at 4.59 million.