Existing-home sales jumped 14.7% for the month to 5.46 million units annualized. Year-over-year, sales jumped 7.7% in December.
By type, single-family home sales jumped 16.1% and came in 7.1% higher annually, while condo and co-op sales climbed 4.9% for the month and 12.3% for the year.
“While the carryover of November’s delayed transactions into December contributed greatly to the sharp increase, the overall pace taken together indicates sales these last two months maintained the healthy level of activity seen in most of 2015,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Additionally, the prospect of higher mortgage rates in coming months and warm November and December weather allowed more homes to close before the end of the year.”
All four regions recorded large increases in existing-home sales, NAR said.
The West led the way with a 23.2% monthly increase, followed by the South at 14.6%, the Midwest at 10.9%, and the Northeast at 8.7%.
Furthermore, the percentage of first-time homebuyers climbed to 32% from 30% in December, a 3% increase annually, while cash sales comprised 24% of all transactions, down from 27% in November.
“Although some growth is expected, the housing market will struggle in 2016 to replicate last year’s 7% increase in sales,” Yun said. “In addition to insufficient supply levels, the overall pace of sales this year will be constricted by tepid economic expansion, rising mortgage rates and decreasing demand for buying in oil-producing metro areas.”