US existing home sales show signs of recovery

Image caption,
More than one-third of January's sales were for foreclosed properties

Sales of existing US homes rose by 2.7% in January, but prices fell to their lowest in nearly nine years, said the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The jump came despite severe weather conditions, which hit large parts of the country during the month.

Of those January sales, more than one third were for foreclosed properties.

Meanwhile, all-cash deals accounted for another third of the sales. In Las Vegas and Miami, cash deals represented half of all sales.

The NAR said that January's sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million from a downwardly revised 5.22 million in December.

It also said that the pace of existing-home sales over the past three months was now above levels seen a year ago.

And January's sales were also up by 5.3% on the same month a year previously.

"This is the first time in seven months that sales activity was higher than a year earlier," the NAR said.

However, first-time home buyers only made up 29% of the January sales market. A healthy figure is considered by the NAR to be 40%.

And the average price of a house was $158,800, down 3.7% on a year previously and the lowest point since April 2002.

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