WASHINGTON – Sales of U.S. existing homes slipped in February to their lowest level since July 2012 as severe winter weather, rising prices and a tight supply of homes discouraged buyers.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales declined 0.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.6 million. That was the sixth decline in the past seven months.
Sales improved in the South and West, where weather was less of a factor. And more people decided to sell, boosting the supply of available homes 6.4 percent to 2 million.
The median sales price has risen 9.1 percent in the past year, the association said, to $189,000.
First-time buyers accounted for only 28 percent of sales in February – far below the 40 percent that’s typical of a healthy market.
Sales of existing homes climbed steadily in the first half of last year, reaching an annual pace of 5.38 million in July. And sales totaled 5.1 million in all of 2013, the most in seven years. That’s still below the 5.5 million that is consistent with a healthy housing market.
Time Warner execs could get $135 million from Comcast in buyout
LOS ANGELES – Departing Time Warner Cable Inc. executives are in line to receive “golden parachute” compensation totaling around $135 million as part of Comcast Corp.’s $45 billion acquisition of the cable operator.
Shareholders are being asked to vote on the packages in a nonbinding advisory vote. The details were contained in a securities filing Comcast made Thursday.
Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Rob Marcus is in line to receive $79.9 million, Chief Financial Officer Arthur Minson Jr. is set to get $27.1 million, Chief Technology Officer Michael LaJoie would get $16.3 million and Chief Operating Officer Philip Meeks is to receive $11.7 million.
The amounts include cash, stock and benefits that the executives were to receive for the next two to three years, and the final totals could change.
Spokesmen for both Comcast and Time Warner Cable declined to comment.
McDonald’s won’t fill empty COO post
NEW YORK – McDonald’s says its chief operating officer is retiring and that it won’t refill the position.
The world’s biggest hamburger chain says Tim Fenton, 56, will retire in October, then act as a special adviser to CEO Don Thompson. Fenton joined the company as a teenager in 1973 as a worker at a restaurant in Utica, N.Y.
The company says Fenton will not be replaced.
AT&T, T-Mobile taking orders for Galaxy S5
NEW YORK – AT&T says it will take orders for Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 smartphone starting today while T-Mobile will start on Monday.
Verizon, Sprint and others are also expected to carry the phone, though details have yet to be revealed.
Samsung has said the phone will start shipping April 11.
Announced last month at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, the S5 will have a 5.1-inch screen, measured diagonally, and a 16-megapixel camera. The S5 will also have a fingerprint sensor to use in place of a passcode to unlock the phone or make payments through PayPal. And it will have a heart-rate sensor to measure fitness activities.
AT&T says the phone will cost $200 with a two-year service agreement or $650 without a contract. T-Mobile is charging $660 under its installment plan.