Existing-home sales continued on an uptrend in December, rising for three consecutive months and remaining above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
The latest monthly data shows total existing-home sales rose 5.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million in December from a downwardly revised 4.39 million in November, and are 3.6 percent higher than the 4.45 million-unit level in December 2010. The estimates are based on completed transactions from multiple listing services that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said these are early signs of what may be a sustained recovery. “The pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery,” he said. “Record low mortgage interest rates, job growth and bargain home prices are giving more consumers the confidence they need to enter the market.”
For all of 2011, existing-home sales rose 1.7 percent to 4.26 million from 4.19 million in 2010.
Of course he’s gonna say that…
Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 9.2 percent to 2.38 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.2-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 7.2-month supply in November.
Available inventory has trended down since setting a record of 4.04 million in July 2007, and is at the lowest level since March 2005 when there were 2.30 million homes on the market.
“The inventory supply suggests many markets will see prices stabilize or grow moderately in the near future,” Yun said.
Supply is very low. We are desperate for more inventory, especially at the lower-end.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $164,500 in December, which is 2.5 percent below December 2010. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 32 percent of sales in December (19 percent were foreclosures and 13 percent were short sales), up from 29 percent in November; they were 36 percent in December 2010.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 10.7 percent to an annual pace of 620,000 in December and are 3.3 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $231,300, which is 2.7 percent below December 2010.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 8.3 percent in December to a level of 1.04 million and are 9.5 percent above December 2010. The median price in the Midwest was $129,100, down 7.9 percent from a year ago.
In the South, existing-home sales increased 2.9 percent to an annual level of 1.76 million in December and are 3.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $146,900, down 1.1 percent from December 2010.
Existing-home sales in the West rose 2.6 percent to an annual pace of 1.19 million in December but are 0.8 percent below December 2010. The median price in the West was $205,200, up 0.3 percent from a year ago.