Existing home sales resumed an upward trajectory in December. After drifting lower by 2.5 percent in November, breaking a five-month streak of gains, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said sales in the last month of the year rose 0.7 percent.
Sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.76 million during the month, compared to 6.69 million units in November. This represented a 22.2 percent increase over the 5.53 million unit rate a year earlier.
The numbers were above the 6.40 million to 6.62 million range of forecasts by analysts polled by Econoday. Their consensus was for an annual rate of 6.55 million units.
Single-family home sales were also 0.7 percent higher than the previous month at an annual rate of 6.03 million units compared to 5.99 million in November, an annual gain of 22.8 percent. Condo and cooperative apartments sold at a rate of 730,000 units, 1.4 percent and 17.7 percent increases over the two earlier periods.
"Home sales rose in December, and for 2020 as a whole, we saw sales perform at their highest levels since 2006, despite the pandemic," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "What's even better is that this momentum is likely to carry into the new year, with more buyers expected to enter the market."
"Although mortgage rates are projected to increase, they will continue to hover near record lows at around 3 percent," Yun said. "Moreover, expect economic conditions to improve with additional stimulus forthcoming and vaccine distribution already underway."
The median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $309,800, a 12.9 percent increase from the median of $274,500 a year earlier and the 106th straight month of annual appreciation. Prices increased in every region. The median existing single-family home price was $314,300 in December, a 13.5 percent annual gain, while condo prices were up 6.9 percent to a median of $272,000.