March 4, 2010
Fewer Americans than expected signed contracts to purchase previously owned homes in January, indicating the extension of a tax credit is doing little to lure buyers.
The index of purchase agreements, or pending home sales, dropped 7.6 percent after a revised 0.8 percent increase in December, the National Association of Realtors announced in Washington. Other reports today showed factory orders increased and first-time jobless claims declined.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The drop in contract signings adds to evidence the housing market at the center of the worst recession since the 1930s is struggling to rebound after reports last week showed unexpected declines in purchases of new and existing homes. The market may get another blow this month when the Federal Reserve ends planned purchases of mortgage-backed securities.
“When you take away all the support from the housing market, the underlying demand for housing is a lot weaker than we thought,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We clearly pushed some demand forward, and there wasn’t that much demand to pull forward anyway. The housing recovery is going to be very, very slow.”