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Homes Sales Rise In December

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Wall Street is currently up on the news that the number of homes sold nationwide in December rose, thanks in part to all those foreclosure and bargain hunters doing their part in California. Via CNN: "The number of homes sold nationwide was buoyed by a surge in the West, where the housing market has been hardest hit by a record number of foreclosures. Existing home sales in the West surged 13.6% to an annual rate of 1.25 million in December, up 31.6% from a year ago. But the median price in the West was $213,100, down 31.5% from December 2007." And the view of Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist: “It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices. The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but the market is still far from normal balanced conditions. Buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.” And all those job cuts may wipe away good news about a bottom because the "problem is that the labor markets will weaken going forward," Michael Schenk, senior economist at Credit Union National Association in Madison, Wisconsin, tells Reuters. "That might not completely overwhelm the effect of lower interest rates, but people are reluctant to buy a home when they think their job prospects are not so great." [CNN/NRA/Reuters]