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Buyers cautiously sniffing housing market

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  • Buyers cautiously sniffing housing market

    With white tin ceilings, original woodwork, bay windows, and a $699,000 price tag, the two-bedroom apartment at 719 Carroll St. in Brooklyn would have been snatched up in a New York minute a couple of years ago.

    Instead, it's been on the market for more than two months. On a recent spring weekend 14 buyers came through, and still no bids.

    "We're in the early stages of the search," said Joanna Brett, 33, as she checked out the apartment with Sarah Madigan. "We've been looking on and off for six months."

    Welcome to the spring selling season.

    The number of house hunters out this spring is an encouraging sign that the real estate market is beginning to turn around. There's just one problem — a lot of them are in no hurry to buy, according to interviews with dozens of shoppers at open houses last weekend.

    The market's turning point will be tough to predict, because it will be gradual and obscured by conflicting signs like recent housing reports that showed sales of previously occupied homes fell 3 percent from February to March, while new home sales seemed to have bottomed out.

    Even more puzzling for homebuyers, economists expect sales volumes to recover at least six months before home prices stabilize.

    "Prices will continue to fall sharply this spring and summer and will stabilize at year's end," said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com.



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