Existing-home sales show improvement

Data released today from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show sales of existing homes increased 5.6% to a pace of 4.68 million in November.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million is the highest since June 2010, which saw a pace of 5.26 million. Compared with November of last year, however, sales are 27.9% down from a 6.49-million pace.

A month ago, officials from the NAR talked about an "uneven recovery" and optimistic projections of sales at the 5-million pace by spring of 2011. That optimistic analysis continued with the release of this morning's figures. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said: “Continuing gains in home sales are encouraging, and the positive impact of steady job creation will more than trump some negative impact from a modest rise in mortgage interest rates, which remain historically favorable."

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $170,600 in November, up 0.4% from November 2009. Distressed homes have been a fairly stable market share, accounting for 33% of sales in November; they were 34% in October and 33% in November 2009.

Today's figures were in line with analyst expectations.

Yun added that home buyers are responding to improved affordability conditions. “The relationship recently between mortgage interest rates, home prices and family income has been the most favorable on record for buying a home since we started measuring in 1970,” he said. “Therefore, the market is recovering and we should trend up to a healthy, sustainable level in 2011.”

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