Signs that the housing market is still trying to shake off the impact of the economic downturn continued Friday as the National Association of Realtors announced that existing home sales continued their rise in December.
The NAR reported that its data show 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. This is 3.6% higher than the 4.45 million-unit level in December 2010.
The association said it bases its estimates on completed transactions from multiple listing services that include single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said these are early signs of what may be a sustained recovery.
“The pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery,” he said. “Record low mortgage interest rates, job growth and bargain home prices are giving more consumers the confidence they need to enter the market.”
For all of 2011, existing-home sales rose 1.7% to 4.26 million from 4.19 million in 2010.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to another record low of 3.96% in December from 3.99% in November; the rate was 4.71% in December 2010; record keeping began in 1971.
NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami, said more buyers are expected to take advantage of market conditions this year.
“The American dream of home ownership is alive and well. We have a large pent-up demand, and household formation is likely to return to normal as the job market steadily improves,” he said. “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.”