NAR Reports Rise in Home Sales

 

Existing-home sales exceeded analysts’ expectations by increasing by 12.3 percent in December. Homes sales are returning to their highest level since last May.

 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported seasonally adjusted sales rose to an annualized rate of 5.28 million last month from 4.7 million for November. Analysts had predicted a rate of approximately 4.9 million units.

 

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “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. 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.”

 

NAR said the median existing-home price in December was $168,000, down 1 percent from a year earlier, which was attributed to the number of distressed properties sold during the month. The level of distressed-home sales last month rose to 36 percent of the existing-home market, up from 33 percent in November and 32 percent last year.

 

Regarding distressed-home sales, Yun said, “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,”

 

NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said buyers are responding to very good affordability conditions despite tight mortgage credit. “Historically low mortgage interest rates, stable home prices, and pent-up demand are drawing home buyers into the market,” Phipps said. “Recent home buyers have been successful with very low default rates, given the outstanding performance for loans originated in 2009 and 2010.”

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