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 (NAR).
The latest monthly data shows total existing-home sales rose 5% 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% higher than the 4.45 million-unit level in December 2010.
Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 22%, up from 20% a year ago, while short sales closed 13% below market value compared with a 16% discount in December 2010.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $164,500, which is 2.5% below December 2010. Distressed homes accounted for 32% of sales in December – 19% were foreclosures and 13% were short sales – up from 29% in November; they were 36% in December 2010.
All-cash sales accounted for 31% of purchases, up from 28% in November and 29% in December 2010. Investors purchased 21% of homes in December, up from 19% in November and 20% in December 2010. First-time buyers fell to 31% of transactions, down from 35% in November; they were 33% in December 2010.
‘Record-low mortgage interest rates, job growth and bargain home prices are giving more consumers the confidence they need to enter the market,’ says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. ‘More buyers coming into the market mean additional benefits for the overall economy. When people buy homes, they stimulate a lot of related goods and services.’