Existing home sales jump 12%

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sales of existing homes jumped in December, marking the fifth month of gains in the past six months, based on an industry report released Thursday.

Previously-owned home sales climbed 12.3% in December to an annual rate of 5.28 million, from 4.70 million in November, according to the National Association of Realtors.

That puts sales at the highest level since the homebuyer tax credit expired in June, said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group.

The December rate came in much higher than expected. A consensus of experts surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast an annualized sales rate of 4.8 million. However, sales were down 2.9% from 12 months earlier and fell 4.7% in 2010.

"December was a nice finish to the year, but looking at the bigger picture -- home sales and prices have been scraping along the bottom for the last three years," Hoffman said. "So, while we're not digging a deeper hole -- the housing market is still quite weak, and there are still more homes available on the market than there are likely to be buyers."

The median price of all existing homes sold in December was $168,800, down 1% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, the inventory of homes on the market fell 4.2% in December to 3.56 million units. That's enough inventory to last 8.1 months, and is down from a 9.5-month supply in November.

While that's an improvement, Hoffman said that data doesn't reflect the large number of foreclosures that could soon enter on the market.

"What's hidden behind the curtain are potential foreclosures adding to those inventory levels," he said. "Even as we have jobs growing, inventory is still large and more foreclosures are going to be coming on the market. Prices will go down and it's going to continue to be very much a buyer's market."

That said, Hoffman expects sales to gradually improve -- rising about 4% or 5% -- by the end of 2011, as the employment picture improves.

"I do think there will be more sales in 2011, because job growth will support homebuyers," Hoffman said. "We're getting back to the underlying demand without the homebuyer tax credit, but housing is still not contributing much to the overall economic improvement in the economy."  To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.19%4.29%
15 yr fixed3.26%3.28%
5/1 ARM3.64%3.78%
30 yr refi4.29%4.22%
15 yr refi3.19%3.23%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
  • Find Homes for sale
    Real estate and homes for sale on Trulia

  • Property Type
  • Find a home in: New York | Atlanta | Chicago | Los Angeles
  • Washington D.C | Houston | Philadelphia | More options
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,915.07 -70.54 -0.42%
Nasdaq 4,396.20 -22.83 -0.52%
S&P 500 1,964.68 -8.15 -0.41%
Treasuries 2.53 -0.01 -0.59%
Data as of 12:05am ET
Company Price Change % Change
CBS Corp 61.80 -2.13 -3.33%
Bank of America Corp... 15.44 -0.16 -1.03%
Facebook Inc 64.87 -0.10 -0.15%
Apple Inc 95.04 -0.36 -0.37%
General Electric Co 26.20 -0.12 -0.46%
Data as of Jul 10

Sections

The United Auto Workers Union has been trying to combat shrinking membership by establishing an outpost at a foreign-owned auto plant. More

Hispanics make up 16.3% of the U.S. population but own only 2.2% of the wealth. More

Mexican phone operator America Móvil, controlled by billionaire magnate Carlos Slim, has announced plans to sell off assets in order to reduce its market share. More

Guy Franklin maps Israeli startups in his spare time, both to highlight how fast they're popping up and to change the conversation about Israel. More

American high school students are less money smart than their peers in countries ranging from China to Estonia, according to an international report released Wednesday. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.