Existing home sales up 2.7% in January

By Steve Goldstein

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Sales of existing homes rose a seasonally-adjusted 2.7% in January for the fifth monthly rise in six, a trade group said Wednesday as it also announced a major review into the quality of its data. The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes were at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 5.36 million from a downwardly revised 5.22 million in December. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a 5.22 million pace for January. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose 5.3%, and activity is now above the level when a now-expired tax credit existed. The realtors group also, as planned, revised monthly figures from 2008 to 2010 ahead of a bigger review that’s due in the summer. The trade group’s data has been called overstated by as much as 20% though the NAR’s chief economist said he hoped the revision would be in “single digits.” The median price of home sales – which weren’t affected by this revision and aren’t expected to be by the summer review – fell 3.7% from last year to $158,800, the lowest since April 2002

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