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Existing-Home Sales Jump In December
Jan 20, 2011
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Existing-home sales rose sharply in December, increasing for the fifth time in six months, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing-home sales (including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops) rose 12.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December, from an upwardly revised 4.70 million in November. Existing home sales still remain 2.9% below the 5.44 million pace in December 2009.

"December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuated 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% below December 2009. Distressed homes rose to a 36% market share in December from 33% in November, and 32% in December 2009.

Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 4.2% 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.

A parallel NAR practitioner survey showed first-time buyers purchased 33% of homes in December 2010, up from 32% in November 2010, but below the 43% seen in December 2009.

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