Existing-Home Sales UP

According to the National Association of Realtors®, existing-home sales rose slightly in December with sales for all of 2013 hitting their highest level since 2006.

An existing-home sale is considered a completed transaction that may include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.  Total sales went up by 1.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million in December edging up from from 4.82 million in sales for November.  December’s existing sales finished 0.6 percent below the 4.90 million-unit level for the same period one-year earlier.

NAR data shows that for all of 2013 5.09 million existing-homes were sold, which is 9.1 percent higher than 2012. It was the strongest performance for existing-home sales since 2006 when sales reached an unsustainably high 6.48 million at the close of the housing boom.

Chief economist for the NAR, Lawrence Yun noted that housing has experienced a healthy recovery over the past two years. Saying that, “Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market.  We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population.”

Foreclosure transactions accounted for ten percent of December sales, while 4.0 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in December, while short sales were discounted 13 percent.

The NAR says that, “Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 9.3 percent to 1.86 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in November. Unsold inventory is 1.6 percent above a year ago, when there was a 4.5-month supply.”