Home sales, housing market growth strongest in years

According to data from the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales were up in December, total sales were the highest in roughly seven years and median prices continued a strong surge.

It appears that across the U.S., the housing market is on its way back up toward recent peaks. Current data has indicated that several statistics - including home sales and median prices - were surging toward the end of 2013.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales were up in December, total sales were the highest in roughly seven years and median prices continued a strong surge. Specifically, existing-home sales for December ticked up 1 percent month-over-month. However, that total is 0.6 percent below the figure noted in December 2012. Total sales for all of 2013 reached 5.09 million units, more than 9 percent above 2012's number. 

"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," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. "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."

In addition to home sales, the median price throughout all of 2013 hit $197,100, the best year-over-year gain since 2005, NAR noted.

Foreclosure comprised more of total home sales
When it comes to total numbers across the country, short sales and foreclosures comprised 16 percent of total U.S. residential sales for the year, based on RealtyTrac's December and Year-End 2013 U.S. Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report. That is nearly 2 percent higher than 2012's amount, thanks in part to an increase in cash sales and institutional investor purchases.

Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said that the higher number of foreclosed houses selling across the U.S. is still possible despite a fewer number of properties starting the process. He added that this is because a sizable inventory of foreclosed or bank owned properties remains available for buyers.

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