WASHINGTON – Existing-home sales 2013 were the highest annual total, and median prices maintained strong growth, according to the National Association of Realtors.
For all of 2013, there were 5.09 million sales, which is 9.1 percent higher than 2012. It was the strongest performance since 2006 when sales reached an unsustainably high 6.48 million at the close of the housing boom.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said housing has experienced a healthy recovery over the past two years.
“Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market,” he said. “We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population.
The national median existing-home price2 for all of 2013 was $197,100, which is 11.5 percent above the 2012 median of $176,800, and was the strongest gain since 2005 when it rose 12.4 percent.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $198,000, up 9.9 percent from December 2012.
Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 9.3 percent to 1.86 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.6-month supply4 at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in November.
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.46 percent in December from 4.26 percent in November; the rate was 3.35 percent in December 2012.
NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate, Inc., Realtors in Dayton, Ohio, said that with jobs expected to improve this year, sales should hold even despite rising home prices and higher mortgage interest rates. “The only factors holding us back from a stronger recovery are the ongoing issues of restrictive mortgage credit and constrained inventory. With strict new mortgage rules in place, we will be monitoring the lending environment to ensure that financially qualified buyers can access the credit they need to purchase a home.”