Home sales rose nationally in December, marking the third consecutive month that the market has shown improvement.
Previously owned homes were sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million units, up 5.0% from November and 3.6% from December a year prior, according to the National Assn. of Realtors.
“The market for single-family homes picked up in the second half of 2011, after being stuck near the bottom for nearly three years,” Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight, wrote in a note. “This pickup is real, but the road to recovery will be a slow one.”
About one in three homes sold last month was a so-called distressed sale, either a foreclosure or a short sale, the latter involving a bank allowing a home to be sold for less than the outstanding debt on the property. Roughly one in three homes was purchased in cash.