EXISTING-HOME SALES EASE, BUT 2006 THIRD HIGHEST ON RECORD

Existing-home sales eased but prices stabilized as inventories tightened in December, while 2006 was the third-highest sales year on record, according to NAR. Total existing-home sales–including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops-–eased 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.22 million units in December from a level of 6.27 million in November. Sales were 7.9% lower than a 6.75 million-unit pace in December 2005. There were 6,480,000 existing-home sales in all of 2006, down 8.4% from a record 7,075,000 in 2005. The second highest total was 6,779,000 in 2004; NAR began tracking home sales in 1968. David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said home sales remain historically high. “Despite all of the doom-and-gloom stories and dire predictions over the last year, 2006 was the third strongest year on record for existing-home sales,” he said. “It looks like we’re moving beyond the low for the housing cycle last fall, and buyers are responding to historically low interest rates and competitive pricing by home sellers. In addition, a tightening inventory of homes on the market is supporting prices.” (Source: NAR)

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