After 4 Years, Housing Market Still Frail
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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