Home Sales Down 2.2 Percent, Prices Drop 6 Percent in December

Washington, D.C.–Existing home sales dropped beyond expectations in December, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said Thursday.The Washington-based group said sales declined 2.2. percent to an annual rate of 4.89 million, Bloomberg reports.Single-family home sales fell 13 percent in 2007–the biggest amount since 1982–and prices plummeted for the first time in four decades. Median sale price dropped 6 percent to $208,400 from December 2006; from 2006 to 2007, median price was down 1.4 percent.Analysts expect a difficult housing market with more foreclosures next year. “I do expect sales to remain soft through the first quarter and possibly the second quarter,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.At the end of December, the number of for-sale homes declined 7.4 percent to 3.91 million–a 9.6 month supply at the current sales pace, which is a slight drop from November’s 10.1 month supply. However, the housing inventory is still far from the five to six month supply the NAR suggests would be healthy.The Commerce Department’s report on new home sales is due next week.