Realtors call for stimulus for housing market

The real national gross domestic product contracted by a 0.5 percent rate in the third quarter, unchanged from the federal government’s previous estimate, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday.

The department also announced that the national sales of new homes fell to a 17-year low in November.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said the median existing home sale price fell 13.2 percent in November, the sharpest monthly decline on record since the prices were first tracked in 1968.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said he had expected a decline.

"The quickly deteriorating conditions in the job market, stock market, and consumer confidence in October and November have knocked down home sales to another level. We hope the home sales impact from the stock market crash turns out to be short-lived, as was the case in 1987 and 2001," Ynn said. "It is, therefore, imperative to provide incentives for homebuyers to get back into the market. It also depends on how effectively Congress and the new administration can help facilitate the short sales process and unclog the mortgage pipeline – impediments remain for some buyers with good credit."

NAR president Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said called for a federal housing stimulus to spark an economic recovery.

"We need more than low interest rates to encourage enough buyers to enter the market and meaningfully draw down inventory, which would stabilize home prices – that, in turn, would help the economy to recover," McMillan said. "We should extend the first-time buyer tax credit to all homebuyers and eliminate the repayment feature, and make permanent the higher loan limits that are vital in high-cost markets – the faster we do this, the faster housing and the economy can recover."

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