November home sales fall across U.S.

But Spring recovery predictedThe drop follows nine straight months of gains.
But NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the fall was expected and is likely to be short-lived.
The steam went out of sales when the original deadline for the first-time homebuyer tax credit loomed.
Activity picked up again when Congress extended the credit through the end of April. First-time buyers will get up to $8,000, and repeat buyers could take up to $6,500.
While the National Association of Realtors predicts it could be spring before other pockets of the nation report sizeable sales gains, the desert is entering into what typically is the busiest time of the year for sales.
“Our selling season is now,” said Greg Berkemer, executive vice president of the California Desert Area Association of Realtors.
For November, sales rose 26 percent over the same month in 2008 — with median prices falling by 6.3 percent.
The valley’s account of new, pending sales contracts for November did dip, but not as much as the national average. Sales fell 9 percent, down from 411 pending transactions in November 2008 to 371 in November 2009.
“If we have a good showing in December, January and February, we should be well-poised for what people are saying on a national basis — a true recovery by the spring,” Berkemer said.
Inventory levels also are rising slightly. He said it’s a sign homeowners have realistic expectations of market values and that buyers are recognizing the market has hit its trough.
“With sales bottoming out more than two years ago and the median home price reaching its trough in February 2009, California remains ahead of the nation in market recovery,” said California Association of Realtors vice president and chief economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “The median price for most regions hit bottom during the first half of the year, and the statewide median home price now is nearly $60,000 higher than its lowest point in the current cycle.”
As many as 900,000 first-time home buyers and 1.5 million repeat buyers are expected to take advantage of the extended tax credit, the National Association of Realtors predicts.
“We expect another surge in the spring as more homebuyers take advantage of affordable housing conditions before the tax credit expires,” Yun said.

Debra Gruszecki • The Desert Sun • January 6, 2010