Posted by Yen Ho
Written by Alan Zibel
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of existing homes unexpectedly plunged in January to the lowest level in nearly 12 years as pessimism about the economy grew and buyers waited for President Barack Obama's plan to help revive the U.S. housing market.
The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell 5.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.49 million last month, from 4.74 million in December. It was the weakest showing since July 1997, and some analysts don't see sales bottoming out until later this year as prices continue to sink. Sales had been expected to rise to an annual pace of 4.79 million homes, according to Thomson Reuters.
"If Americans are worried they won't have a job next month, next quarter, or next year, you've got a real problem," Mike Larson, a real estate analyst with Weiss Research, wrote in a research note.