Existing home sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months, rising sharply in December according to the National Association of Realtors.
Existing-home sales, rose 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from an upwardly revised 4.70 million in November, but remain 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in December 2009.
“December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $168,800 in December, which is 1.0 percent below December 2009. Distressed homes rose to a 36 percent market share in December from 33 percent in November, and 32 percent in December 2009.
“The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues,” Yun explained.
Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 4.2 percent to 3.56 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 9.5-month supply in November.
To view a copy of full report, see here.