Is This Report a Bad Sign For the Housing Recovery?
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun saw some uneven trends in December’s report. “The supply limitation appears to be the main factor holding back contract signings in the past month,” he said. “Buyer interest remains solid, as evidenced by a separate Realtor survey, which shows that buyer foot traffic is easily outpacing seller traffic.”
Last month, the number of previously-occupied homes fell to an 11-year low, pushing down the completed sales numbers for December. But the broader trends remained stable. As the Associated Press reported, stable job gains and low mortgage rates have convinced more Americans to buy homes; completed sales of previously-occupied homes hit a five-year high in 2012. The low supply of existing homes has correspondingly helped home prices rise and made builders more inclined to ramp up construction. In December, builders started work on the most new homes in 4 ½ years.
Now, the association predicts that sales will increase by 9 percent this year.