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Real estate giant predicts slow home sales for months to come

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Huge brokerage @Realogy predicts its home sales will fall this quarter
Higher home prices aren't making up for fewer sales
"2014 could be a challenging year" if home sales don't rebound in second half, @Realogy exec says

Sluggish home sales took a bite out of the stock price of one the nation’s biggest real estate brokerages.

Shares in Realogy Holdings Corp., which owns major brokerage firms Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and Sotheby’s, tumbled more than 8% on Monday after the New Jersey firm said it expect the slow housing market to continue.

The company, which represented about 1.4 million buyers and sellers of real estate last year, said it expects deals at its two largest units to fall 5% to 7% in the second quarter, compared with the same quarter last year. In the first quarter, deals fell 2%.

Although prices -- and thus commissions -- are up, the slowdown in sales nationally, especially at lower- and middle-price tiers, is hurting the brokerage business.

“2014 could be a challenging year, especially if transaction volume growth continues to slow throughout the prime selling season,” chief financial officer Tony Hull told analysts.

Hull and other Realogy executives said that they did not expect the share of first-time buyers in the market to climb anytime soon and that the lack of inventory available to potential move-up buyers is slowing the market down.

The company reported a net loss of $46 million, compared with a loss of $74 million in the same period last year.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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