March Existing Home Sales are due out at 10:00am EST this morning. The consensus estimates put the figure at 6.45m, down from 6.69m in February.
U.S. home prices continued to fall in February, with 17 of 20 major metro areas seeing lower prices in February compared with January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday.
Prices are down 1.5% in 10 major cities in the past year, the fastest decline in 13 years.
In 20 major cities, prices are down 1% in the past year.
The biggest declines over the past year were in Detroit, Boston and Washington. Seattle, Portland and Charlotte have seen the biggest increases in the past year.
“Declines in home prices are showing no signs of turnaround,” S&P said in a release.
A year ago, prices were rising 14%.
The report comes amid heightened concerns about the housing market.
Falling home prices will exacerbate credit problems, because many borrowers will not be able to refinance their loan or sell their house because they owe more than it’s worth.
The 10-city Case-Shiller index turned negative in mid-1990 and remained negative for much of the next three years. Prices did not return to the peak seen in October 1989 until January 1998.
The Case-Shiller index is considered to be a superior gauge of home prices compared with the median sales-price data released by the Commerce Department or National Association of Realtors, because it tracks multiple sales on the same property and is therefore not influenced by a different mix of homes sold in a period.
Sales of existing homes plunged 8.4% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.12 million, the lowest in nearly four years, the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. It was the largest percentage decline in sales since January 1989. Economists were expecting sales to fall to 6.45 million. The median price of an existing home fell 0.3% year-over-year to $217,000. The inventory of unsold homes on the market fell 1.6% to 3.75 million, representing a 7.3-month supply. Sales of condos were unchanged, while sales of single-family homes dropped 9.5%. Sales fell in all four regions. “This number reflects subprime lending” as well as the cold weather in February, said David Lereah, chief economist for the real estate group.