New home sales fall again in the US

New single family home sales in the United States fell 2.2% to an annual rate of 307,000 in December from 314,000 a month earlier, according to the latest data from the Commerce Department.

The seasonally adjusted rate, dropped 7.3% from 331,000 a year earlier. The preliminary estimate for actual new homes sold in 2011 came in at 302,000, 6.2% below 323,000 sold in 2010.
 
The figures are released as the National Association of Realtors call on the US government to make housing a national public policy priority.

‘Restoring the health of the housing market is the only way to achieve a broader economic recovery. Realtors believe that more must be done to stem the rising inventory of foreclosed homes and address the lack of available and affordable mortgage financing, which is inhibiting a meaningful housing market recovery,’ said BAR president Moe Veissi.

‘Our families, communities, the housing market and economy all suffer when people lose their home to foreclosure. We are calling upon the Obama administration, Congress and lenders to help keep more people in their homes by taking more aggressive steps to modify loans and help homeowners significantly reduce their monthly mortgage payments,’ he added.

The NAR is also urging the government and lenders to streamline the often time consuming and inefficient short sales process and to quickly approve reasonable offers when a family is absolutely unable keep their home. It points out that keeping people in their homes and reducing foreclosures will help minimize the negative impact of distressed properties on home values and neighbourhoods.

‘Expanding financing opportunities could also help reduce excess inventories of distressed properties. Increased fees and higher down payments are making it harder for many creditworthy homebuyers and investors to obtain financing, thwarting the sale of distressed properties and prolonging the impact those homes have on local markets,’ said Veissi.

‘While we are beginning to see early signs of stabilisation in the housing market, NAR calls on Congress and the Obama administration to come together and make housing a priority issue. In this vein, we urge the White House to host a national housing summit to encourage a broad discussion among stakeholders to help formulate and advance policies that move the country toward a real housing and economic recovery,’ he added.