After 4 Years, Housing Market Still Frail Housing news this week has been mixed. Home prices are beginning to stabilize but the number of sales was worse than expected. Some economists see reason for optimism, while others say the government needs to keep propping up the housing sector.
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After 4 Years, Housing Market Still Frail

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After 4 Years, Housing Market Still Frail

After 4 Years, Housing Market Still Frail

After 4 Years, Housing Market Still Frail

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Housing news this week has been mixed. Home prices are beginning to stabilize but the number of sales was worse than expected. Some economists see reason for optimism, while others say the government needs to keep propping up the housing sector.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD: The latest numbers show a housing show a housing market that's starting to heal, but that's still fragile. Existing home sales in December fell by about 17 percent from the month before. That sounds like a lot, but the first-time homebuyer tax credit boosted sales in prior months so it's not too surprising that the pace of sales has cooled off a bit since then.

KARL CASE: It's down but it's still in a very good level relative to what it was before. That means we're selling a fair number of houses. The second thing is that prices seem to have stabilized.

ARNOLD: Karl Case is a housing economist at Wellesley College. He helped to create the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index that tracks home prices across 20 metro areas.

CASE: If you look at the numbers for the 20 cities they do seem to have reached what might be a bottom.

ARNOLD: Mark Zandi is chief economist of Moody's Economy.com.

MARK ZANDI: The housing crash has been ongoing now for four years. I suspect we've got another 6-12 months to go and that does require that policymakers continue to be aggressive in trying to support the housing market.

ARNOLD: Chris Arnold, NPR News.

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