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HUD releases January housing numbers

The real estate market was a mixed bag in January.

The real estate market was a mixed bag in January.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, January's residential real estate market was a mixed bag.

On the negative side, there were fewer privately-owned housing units authorized in January, falling 0.3 percent to 10.4 percent compared to December.

Another negative sign was the number of real estate projects finished, as privately-owned housing completions totaled 512,000. That's almost 10 percent lower than the revised December estimate of 566,000 and considerably lower than the 662,000 housing completions in January 2010.

It's not all bad news, though, as more homebuilders at least broke ground in January. Privately-owned housing starts totaled a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000, 14.6 percent higher than December's 520,000.

The contrasting nature of HUD's report regarding the vibrancy of last month's housing market is in line with several reports issued over the past few weeks. The number of homes discounting their selling prices has grown, according to ZipRealty, which indicates supply is still high.

But the National Association of Realtors says 80 housing markets across the United States increased home prices in the fourth quarter, which would seem to indicate more people are in the moving market, as demand has increased.