Sales of existing homes jump 7.4% nationally over tax credit

December 23, 2009|By Los Angeles Times

Sales of previously owned homes soared 7.4 percent in the traditionally slow month of November as buyers looked to take advantage of a tax credit for first-time purchases, an industry group said Tuesday.

Sales of single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million units in November, the National Association of Realtors in Washington said.

That is 44.1 percent above the 4.54 million sales pace of November 2008. The 7.4 percent rise reported Tuesday was compared with sales in October 2009.

The median price for all types of existing homes was $172,600 in November, a 4.3 percent drop from November 2008. Distressed properties accounted for 33 percent of sales in November, the Realtors group said.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors group, said the bump came as first-time buyers rushed to take advantage of an $8,000 federal first-time home buyer tax credit.

Congress last month extended the subsidy through April and expanded it to include a $6,500 incentive for some buyers who already own a home.

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