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Sales of Existing U.S. Homes Soar in December, Partly From Distressed Sales

Housing-Market / US Housing Jan 21, 2011 - 02:22 AM GMT

By: Asha_Bangalore

Housing-Market

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleSales of existing homes rose 12.3% in December to an annual rate of 5.28 million.  Purchases of single-family homes increased 11.8% in December to an annual rate of 4.64 million, the highest since August 2007, excluding the hikes recorded when the first-time home buyer program was in place during several months of the 2009-2010 period. 



 
In 2010, sales of existing homes have dropped 4.7% on an annual average basis after a 5.5% increase in 2009 led by the first-time home buyer program.  The sales trajectory appears to be improving given that sales of existing homes have now risen in four out of the last six months. 


According to the National Association of Realtors, 36% of homes sold in December were distressed properties, up from 33% in November.  As chart 3 indicates, roughly a third of all existing home sales since October 2008 are made up of distressed properties. 



The inventory of unsold existing homes single-family homes fell to 8.6-month supply after holding between 10 and 11 months since July 2010.  The reduction in inventories of unsold homes is favorable and points to the possibility of home price stability in the near term. 


 
As long as the inventory of existing homes is above the historical norm, the probability of a decline in home price is strong.  The median prices of an existing single-family home dropped 0.9% to $169,300 in December compared with the median price in November, while it edged down 0.2% from a year ago. 

Asha Bangalore — Senior Vice President and Economist

http://www.northerntrust.com

Asha Bangalore is Vice President and Economist at The Northern Trust Company, Chicago. Prior to joining the bank in 1994, she was Consultant to savings and loan institutions and commercial banks at Financial & Economic Strategies Corporation, Chicago.

Copyright © 2011 Asha Bangalore

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Northern Trust Company. The Northern Trust Company does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of information contained herein, such information is subject to change and is not intended to influence your investment decisions.


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