U.S. Existing Home Sales Were Up In December, Finishing Strong 2015

Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales in the United States rebounded to end the year on a positive note in December, up 14.7 percent from November. That made 2015 the best year for sales of already built single-family homes, townhouse and condominiums since 2006.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales were up to an annualized rate of 5.46 million last month. That was also 7.7 percent higher than December 2014.

“While the carryover of November’s delayed transactions into December contributed greatly to the sharp increase, the overall pace taken together indicates sales these last two months maintained the healthy level of activity seen in most of 2015,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement released Friday. “Additionally, the prospect of higher mortgage rates in coming months and warm November and December weather allowed more homes to close before the end of the year.”

The NAR reported that the median price for existing homes of all types stood at $224,000, continuing a nearly four-year run of year-over-year increases. Sales rose in each of the four regions tracked by the NAR, with a robust 23 percent jump in the West.

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The market could struggle this year to match 2015’s success.

Yun pointed to lower supply, saying at a press conference that “a housing shortage appears to be in the cards.” There are currently about 1.79 million existing homes on the market, which should take an estimated 3.9 months to sell.

While employment numbers saw a boost in December, the Federal Reserve also raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. That could see mortgage rates increase as well.

But the Fed has indicated that it will take its time making any future rate changes.

Written by Gene Giannotta

Gene Giannotta is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He reports on economic policy, finance and business news.