Existing-Home Sales Skyrocket in December

Existing-home sales improved to a near two-year high in December. Sales jumped 3.6% from November, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) earlier this week. Total sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops, increased 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.54 million. Sales are up nearly 11% from December 2018. For the calendar year, sales ended at the same level as 2018.

"I view 2019 as a neutral year for housing in terms of sales," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in the release. "Home sellers are positioned well, but prospective buyers aren't as fortunate. Low inventory remains a problem, with first-time buyers affected the most."

Regionally, sales increased in the Northeast, South and West, and sales were up in all four regions year over year. Midwest sales declined 1.5%, but are up 9.2% from last year. Meanwhile, the median home price was $274,500, which is nearly 8% higher than December 2018. Housing inventories were down almost 15% from November and 8.5% from December 2018. Homes were also on the market longer, but only an increase of three days from the previous month.

Economists predicted sales would increase 1.3% in December, according to Reuters.

-Michael Miller, managing editor

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