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January's winter weather blamed for freezing home sales

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The severe winter weather has negatively impacted the daily lives of many people across the country. Among those are real estate agents and people involved in single family housing construction. Construction workers are always at the mercy of weather. And the ice, snow, and freezing temperatures have kept potential home buyers off the roads, away from open houses, and away from viewing existing homes for sale.

The chief economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Lawernce Yun, said, Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception."

NAR said that January exisitng home sales were down 5.1 percent from December and down by that same amount from the sales for January 2013. Industry analyst estimate that January 2014 sales were at an annual rate of 4.62 million. That makes this past month the lowest in the past 18 months.

For the Greater Greenville, SC area, 494 homes sold in January compared to 666 that sold in December. That is higher than the 476 that sold in the area January 2013, according to the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors (GGAR). Sales were about 2 percent lower across South Carolina than they were the same time last year.

2013 was a robust year for the housing market and most analyst expected sales to be flat or increase at a moderate rate throughout 2014.

David Crowe is the chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. Crowe said of the January, 2014 numbers: "The less weather sensitive permits data suggests that our forecast for solid growth in single-family housing production in 2014 remains on track, as pent-up housing demand is unleashed." He went on to say, "Though the decline in starts is largely weather related, it is worth noting that on the upside housing production for the fourth quarter was above 1 million for the first time since 2008 while single-family permits held relatively steady."

Single-family home prices were up by 10.4 percent year-over-year. Interest rates began to inch up slightly and the inventory of homes for sale remains low. NAR's Yun said, "These issues will hinder home sales activity until the positive factors of job growth and new supply from higher housing starts begin to make an impact."

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