Sales of existing homes fell for the third straight month in February, sagging to 5.02 million. That's the lowest rate of sales since April of last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Blame the snowstorms that buried much of the Atlantic Coast. "Some closings were simply postponed by winter storms," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. The storms could also have a lingering effective on next the numbers for March. "Buyers couldn't get out to look at homes in some areas and that should negatively impact near-term contract activity."
However, the job market was also terrible last fall -- that didn't stop the homebuyer tax credit from creating a mini housing boom as it reached its earlier expiration and buyers hurried to get in on the deal.
"The key test for a durable recovery comes in the next few months as the tax credit deadline approaches," Yun said. "If we see a surge in home buying comparable to last fall in the months leading up to the original tax credit deadline, then enough inventory should be absorbed to ensure a broad home price stabilization."