Winter weather and tight credit hurt home sales

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Pending home sales were essentially unchanged in January, according to the National Association of Realtors, as monthly gains in the South and Northeast were offset by declines in the West and Midwest.

“Ongoing disruptive weather patterns in much of the U.S. inhibited home shopping,” association chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “Limited inventory also is playing a role, especially in the West, while credit remains tight and affordability isn’t as favorable as it was a year ago.”

Existing-home sales are expected to be weak in the first quarter, while prices continue to rise from limited inventory, according to the realtors group.

“Increasing new home construction can quickly solve two problems, producing more inventory and taming price growth,” Yun said.

The association says total existing-home sales are projected at just over 5 million in 2014, slightly below the volume recorded last year. The national median existing-home price is forecast to grow in the range of 5 to 6 percent this year.

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