Sales of existing homes fell in January to their lowest levels in nearly 12 years, with a real estate group saying buyers delayed purchases in anticipation of government programs to boost the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that existing home sales dropped 5.3% last month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.49 million units from a rate of 4.74 million in December.

January sales were the lowest since July 1997, and were far below the consensus estimate of 4.79 million units, according to a survey of economists compiled by Briefing.com.

The decline comes as some buyers forgo purchases in anticipation of government stimulus efforts aimed at boosting home ownership, according to the NAR.

Source: CNN

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