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Existing Home Sales Improvement in December 2010

Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In December, a report from the National Association of Realtors says that existing home sales surged by 12.3 percent, annualized this comes to a rate of sales of 5.28 million existing homes. In November, annualized sales were at 4.7 million. For the last half of 2010 five out of six months showed gains, according to Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group.

Existing home sales include finalized sales of single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops.

However, looking deeper into the numbers, sales were down 2.9% from the earlier twelve months and in 2010 fell 4.7%. Prices for existing homes fell 1.0% from a year ago and there is over eight months of housing inventory at the present time.“The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues,” Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist explained. He continued, “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery.”

Conclusions of industry experts agree - basically there is agreement that the existing home market has bobbled along for the past three years, and according to Hoffman, though the market for existing homes is weak, it is not getting weaker. Hoffman indicates that he expects the housing market to improve as employment improves and forecasts a 4 percent to 5% percent improvement by the end of 2011. Hoffman makes this prediction including the excessive numbers of foreclosures that are due to hit the market during 2011. He cautions though, that while sales will go up, prices will most likely suffer a downturn. Hence, it will remain a buyer’s market.

This is not good news for sellers. However, many agencies have a program called We Buy Houses. Some companies will negotiate with you and buy your house outright. Others are real estate companies that back up their commitment to sell your home in a certain agreed upon time period by promising to buy it at a predetermined price after the time has expired.

Homeowners who are able to make their payments but recognize they will have to wait for a long period for the value of their property to approach pre-housing bubble values ought to look at this program if they have to move or just want to cut their losses. Those in danger of foreclosure also should explore this kind of program.