Home sales in the U.S. probably climbed in January to the highest level since May 2010, adding to evidence the housing market is regaining its footing, economists said reports this week will show.
Combined purchases of new and existing houses rose to a 4.97 million annual rate from 4.92 million in December, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Claims for jobless benefits held near the lowest level since 2008, bolstering consumer confidence, other reports may show.
A strengthening job market, combined with record affordability driven by the drop in home prices and mortgage rates, will probably keep underpinning demand. Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve and Obama administration are striving to find ways to lend the industry additional assistance amid concern that mounting foreclosures will continue to hinder the recovery.
“Home sales have bottomed, and from here on, we should see a moderate pickup,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York. “Hiring is improving slowly, so that’s helping.” More policy efforts are needed as “we still can’t rely on housing to recover on its own,” she said.
The National Association of Realtors will release data on existing house sales on Feb. 22. Purchases increased 0.9 percent to a 4.65 million annual rate, following a 4.61 million pace in December, according to the Bloomberg survey median.