The long-awaited jump in home sales appears to have materialized at long last, for now anyway. After sales collapsed in late 2009 after the expiration of the new homebuyer tax credit, analysts have been waiting to see some kind of pop in the housing market data following the government’s decision to extend the credit through the end of this month. It appears March might have been the month. According to data from the National Association of Realtors and the Census Bureau, existing home sales increased 6.8 percent from February while new home sales jumped nearly 27 percent. These are preliminary data that could see revisions in either direction, but they do clearly reflect the impact of the tax credit. Interestingly enough, an increase (from 1.75% to 2.25%) in the FHA’s mortgage insurance premium that took effect in early April likely also added to sales last month by moving them forward. The tax credit disappears for homebuyers at the end of this month and it remains to be seen whether home sales can hold up reasonably well or sputter again as they did at the end of last year.

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