Home Sales Increase

According to the latest data from the Commerce Department, sales of new single-family homes registered their first annual gain in seven years.  In addition, information from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), reveals that sales of existing homes saw year-over-year quarterly gains ending the year on a positive note.

The Commerce Department report states that new home sales for 2012 jumped 20 percent over new home sales in 2011.  Though this is encouraging news indicating that new-home sales may now also have turned the corner on market gains, in reality sales for 2012 were the third lowest on record.

Sales of new homes during the two preceding years, 2010 and 2011, were also at record lows.  Final sales figures for all of 2012 show that 367,000 new homes were sold for the year.  This is about one-third of the record number of sales reached in 2005.

New-home sales for the month of December actually dropped 7.3 percent compared to the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 units.  November sales were revised upwards to 398,000 units, which was the highest sales pace in three years.
The median price of new homes increased to $248,900 in December; this was a 1.3 percent increase compared to November. The median price of new homes that sold increased 9.6 percent in December over the same period a year earlier.

According to the NAR, total existing-home sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 were 4.90 million units on a seasonally adjusted annual rate; this was a 12.1 percent gain over the same fourth quarter period in 2011 when 4.37 million units were sold.  Sales for the fourth quarter 2012 were at the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2009 when sales reached 4.95 million units.

Sales for the fourth quarter last year also were 5.0 percent high than sales during the third quarter when 4.66 million units were sold.