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Existing-home sales top 5 million in 2013 -- best year since 2006
More than 5 million existing homes were sold in 2013, the best year since the boom times of 2006, when 6.5 million were sold. That's according to the National Association of Realtors, which reported that single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million in December, up 1 percent from November. Last year's total of 5.09 million sales was 9.1 percent higher than 2012's total. Job growth, low mortgage interest rates and pent-up demand had been driving the market since 2011, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "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," he said. The national median price for an existing home rose 11.5 percent in 2013 to $197,100 -- the biggest jump since 2005, the association reported. As of the end of December, 1.86 million homes were on the market. Realtors are optimistic sales will remain strong this year, despite higher prices and higher mortgage rates. "The only factors holding us back from a stronger recovery are the ongoing issues of restrictive mortgage credit and constrained inventory," said NAR President Steve Brown, co-owner of Irongate Inc. Realtors in Dayton, Ohio. "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." Full Article