New-Home Sales Rise To Record In 2001

By John S. McClenahen Despite some just-calculated downward revisions to September, October and November, sales of new one-family houses in 2001 rose to a record 900,000, buoyed in part by December sales at an annual rate of 946,000, estimate the U.S. Commerce Department's Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. With existing home sales also reaching a record in 2001, the housing sector of the U.S. economy has held up remarkably well during the current recession. "Mortgage applications to purchase a home are running near a record pace, and housing activity is not expected to weaken much," notes Karen Dexter, an economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., New York. "However, housing won't be able to supply the strong rebound it normally experiences [in a recovery from recession] since it never went down much," she stresses.

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