Existing Home Sales up 1% in December

Written by Sandy Williams

Existing home sales rose 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million in December but are 0.6 percent below 2012 levels, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing home salesSales for all of 2013 were 5.09 million, an increase of 9.1 percent and the strongest year since 2006 when sales reached 6.48 million.

“Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population.”

The median prices for existing homes jumped 9.9 percent year-over-year to $198,000. Foreclosures and short sales continued to decline bolstering the increase in pricing. Median time on the market leaped to 72 days from 56 reported in November.

Inventory of existing homes continued the decline started last August, falling 9.3 percent in December to 1.86 million homes for sale—a 4.6 month supply at the current sales rate. The supply was at 4.9 months for three of the last five months with an increase to 5.1 months in November. Low inventory is also a contributing factor to rising prices.

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