Sales of previously owned U.S. homes probably eased in January, reflecting a pause in momentum for the industry coming off its best year since 2007, economists said before a report today.
Purchases fell 0.8 percent to a 4.9 million annualized rate last month from December’s 4.94 million, according to the median forecast of 79 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Other data may show consumer prices were contained in January and a measure of the economic outlook for the next three to six months climbed.
A sustained pickup in housing will depend on faster progress in the labor market, fewer foreclosures and easier access to credit. Near record-low mortgage costs and the prospect of firming prices may induce buyers to return to the market at a time the available supply of homes is shrinking, posing a potential restraint on sales.
“Housing is still very much in recovery,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Florida. “It could be a lot faster. We do need to see job gains continuing. Banks are a little more willing to lend, but it’s still a very gradual process.”
The Realtors’ report is due at 10 a.m. in Washington. Bloomberg survey estimates ranged from 4.7 million to 5.1 million.