January 26, 2009

Home sales jumped 6.5 percent in December

Existing home sales jumped a seasonally adjusted 6.5 percent in December over November, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

Sales of single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops reached an annual rate of 4.74 million units in the month. Compared with December 2007, sales were down 3.5 percent, the association said.

It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

Buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future, he said.

Inventory of unsold homes fell 11.7 percent in the month to 3.68 million existing homes, a 9.3 month supply for the market at current prices, a sharp drop from the 11.2-month inventory in November.

At $175,400, the national median price for existing homes is 15.2 percent below December 2007, the figure pushed by distress sales at discount prices, which represent 45 percent of all home sales, NAR said.

In December, existing-home sales rose 7.4 percent in the South, 1.4 percent in the Northeast, 4 percent in the Midwest and 13.6 percent in the West, NAR said.