The increase in existing-home sales continues, with January sales rising for the third consecutive month with a pace that is now above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million in January from a downwardly revised 5.22 million in December, and are 5.3 percent above the 5.09 million level in January 2010. This is the first time in seven months that sales activity was higher than a year earlier. It is important to note that the National Association of REALTORS® considers existing home sales to include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. The data is based on transaction closings. This differs from the U.S. Census Bureau's serious on new single family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit.
This is generally seen as a positive indicator for the national real estate market; however, I wonder whether existing home sales are on the rise simply because there are less new homes to buy. New development has plunged as it has been increasingly more difficult to secure financing for new projects. Homebuyers have also found it more difficult to get mortgages, and all-cash existing home sales rose to 32 percent in January from 29 percent in December and 26 percent in January 2010.
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