Pending home sales fall in January
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of buyers who agreed to purchase a home fell sharply in January, a sign that demand for housing is sinking this winter as stormy weather slammed Eastern states.
Record snowstorms in January and February had many Americans shoveling sidewalks and driveways instead of combing through listings for open houses. Partly as a result, an index that tracks sales agreements fell 7.6 percent from December to a seasonally adjusted January reading of 90.4, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.
It was the lowest reading since last April and a disappointment to economists, who had expected it would rise to 97.6.
The weakness, however, was not confined to the wintry Northeast. The biggest month-to-month drop was in the West, where sales fell 13 percent. Sales fell almost 9 percent in the Northeast and Midwest and 2 percent in the South.
The weather isn't the only culprit, wrote Jennifer Lee, an economist with BMO Capital Markets. "The impact of government incentives ... appears to be running out of steam, which is, frankly, a scary thought," she wrote.