U.S. housing sales fell in December

Sales of U.S. existing homes plunged 16.7 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million from 6.54 million in November, as the first-time homebuyer’s credit was set to expire. The 16.7-percent decline from November to December was the largest monthly dip on record, dating back to 1968, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported.
Still, sales in December were up 15 percent compared with December 2008.
The median sales price rose to $178,300 in December, up 1.5 percent compared with a year earlier. It’s the first year-over-year increase in prices since August 2007.
For all of 2009, home sales increased 4.9 percent to 5.16 million compared with 2008. "The market is going through a period of swings driven by the tax credit," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. "We’re likely to have another surge in the spring … Job creation is the key to a continued recovery in the second half of the year.”
The tax credit has been extended until June and expanded to cover repeat buyers, but buyers did not know the credit would be extended when they were shopping for homes in October.

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