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NEW HOME SALES DOWN 5.6 PERCENT IN 1991

 NEW HOME SALES DOWN 5.6 PERCENT IN 1991
 WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- New home sales were down


5.6 percent nationwide in 1991, dropping to the lowest levels since the recession of the early 1980s, the Census Bureau reported today.
 "The 1991 sales total of 504,000, the lowest number since 1982, underscores the urgent need for speedy enactment of the economic stimulus program proposed earlier this week by President Bush," said Robert "Jay" Buchert, newly elected president of the National Association of Home Builders.
 "The $5,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers that he proposed could stimulate as many as 250,000 new home sales and give housing the boost that it needs to lead the nation out of recession as it has done in the past."
 The monthly new home sales total, which dropped 6.6 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 522,000, further emphasizes the need for special help for housing, Buchert added. "While much of the 6.6 percent decrease from the previous month was due to a large, unexpected upward revision in the November numbers, sales remained basically flat during the second half of the year. This is particularly disturbing because factors necessary for a resurgence in sales -- low interest rates and improved housing affordability -- were in place," he said, adding that the median new home price in 1991 decreased to $120,000 from the previous year's $122,900 and that the average price decreased from $149,800 to $147,700.
 "Clearly the market mechanisms that normally spur sales are not working and we need the push that the economic stimulus package could provide," Buchert said, "especially since mortgage rates have recently taken a disturbing one-half percent upswing and are now hovering around 9 percent.
 "The administration and Congress must act in a bipartisan effort to ensure that the economic stimulus proposals are passed as quickly as possible. We think the March 20 date that President Bush suggested is not only reasonable, it is essential if the economy is to get back on its feet again," he added.
 On a regional basis, new home sales were down 19.7 percent in 1991 in the Northeast, the region hit hardest by the recession. Sales dropped 5.8 percent in the South and 4 percent in the West. The only area to record an increase was the Midwest, where new home sales were up 4.5 percent, Buchert said.
 -0- 1/31/92
 /CONTACT: Jay Shackford of the National Association of Home Builders, 202-822-0406/ CO: National Association of Home Builders ST: District of Columbia IN: ECO SU:


DC -- DC027 -- 5743 01/31/92 15:50 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 31, 1992
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