U.S. home sales jump more than 4% in January
Home sales across the country rose in January to the highest pace in nearly two years, flashing signs of a healthy spring buying-season ahead, according to figures released this morning by the National Association of Realtors. January home sales rose 4.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million. That's the highest level since May 2010. Sales have risen in three of the past four months, but they remain well below the 6 million that economists equate with a healthy market. First-time buyers, who are considered critical to a recovery, increased slightly on the month to 33% of sales. In healthy markets, first-time buyers make up at least 40%, analysts say. Homes at risk of foreclosure made up 35% of sales last month, up from 32% in December. The eight-parish Baton Rouge metro region posted a 15% sales increase in January—with 429 homes sold, compared to 372 in January 2011—reports the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors. The total dollar volume of homes sold was also up 11%, to $76.3 million, from a year ago. East Baton Rouge Parish saw sales rise 10% in January, Ascension Parish sales rose 31%, and Livingston Parish posted a 19% increase on the month. The average sales price in the entire region fell to $177,825, from $184,774 in January 2010.
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