Trends in existing home sales took a downturn in December, according to data released today by the National Association of Realtors. However, the drop-off was expected, as the surge recorded from September through November was largely spurred by homebuyers eager to meet the original November deadline for a tax credit.
"Existing homes" encompass single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops. According to a statement released by the NAR, sales of existing homes: "fell 16.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million units in December from 6.54 million in November, but remain 15.0 percent above the 4.74 million-unit level in December 2008."
Further, the company released year-end statistics, noting that in 2009, there were 5,156,000 existing-home sales, a 4.9 percent increase from the 4,913,000 existing homes sold in 2008. Notably, this represented the first sales gain since 2005.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR, indicated that the market is going through a period of peaks and valleys, largely driven by the tax credit.
"We'll likely have another surge in the spring as home buyers take advantage of the extended and expanded tax credit," he said. "By early summer, the overall market should benefit from more balanced inventory, and sales are on track to rise again in 2010."
"However," he cautioned, "the job market remains a concern and could dampen the housing recovery -- job creation is key to a continued recovery in the second half of the year."
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