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Weak Condo Sales Equal Good Housing Market?

Even in Manhattan's high-demand market, condominium sales were on par with overall real-estate trends, and sagged last month: "For rent" signs were pasted all over New York's empty condos.

But some analysts see the own-your-own apartments as a separate type of property altogether. Adam Koval, founder and senior analyst at socketsite.com, told CNBC's Mark Haines that most of those who invest in condos are more likely to be investors rather than single family home buyers. Koval declared that families seeking housing are more likely to make their purchases based on "emotional" factors and other "intangibles" -- while a greater percentage of condo buyers are purchasing an asset versus a home, and are considering the "analytics and fundamentals." The analyst said that condo statistics therefore can be utilized for a better "beta" analysis of where the market is going. (In other words, the housing market is not really that bad.)

Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel, took an even stronger stance: joining Koval on "Morning Call," Miller said there is "no correlation" between investor-driven condominium trends and family-home economics. And he pointed out that in 2006, a mere 28% of residential purchases were driven by investors.

One thing seems certain: soft or otherwise, real estate may not have reached a bottom landing quite yet. The National Association of Realtors said today that the pace of existing home sales slipped 0.8% in December -- a slightly worse decline than had been expected -- topping a year in which demand for homes was historically weak, falling by the largest amount in almost a quarter-century. Of course, sometimes bad or good is a matter of perspective: NAR Chief Economist David Lereah points out that 2006 saw "no 'bubbles' bursting" -- and sees a silver lining in that "it is now a buyers' market."

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