Friday, January 30, 2009

Existing-Home Sales Show Surprising Gains

Existing-home sales rose unexpectedly in December while inventory declined, led by a surge of sales in the West, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – jumped 6.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.74 million units in December. The number compares to a downwardly revised pace of 4.45 million units in November, but 3.5 percent below the 4.91 million-unit pace in December 2007.

For all of 2008, there were about 4.9 million existing-home sales -- 13.1 percent below the 5.65 million transactions recorded in 2007. This is the lowest volume since 1997 when there were 4,371,000 sales.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home prices continue to fall significantly.
“It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices,” he said. “The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but the market is still far from normal balanced conditions. Buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.”

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