Harvey_Bennett_Ranch_House Photo: SGT9hJGI/Wikimedia Commons

US existing-home sales increased in December after three consecutive monthly declines, the National Association of Realtors announced today.

Sales of previously owned homes rose 1.0 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million. Figures for November resales were revised down to 4.82 million.

Total sales in 2013 reached 5.09 million, the strongest performance since 2006, when sales hit 6.48 million at the tail end of the housing boom. The number of transactions in 2013 was 9.1 percent higher than the total for 2012.

“Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said in a statement. “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.”

The national median price for previously owned homes was $197,100 in 2013. That’s 11.5 percent higher than the 2012 median of $176,800.

Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 9.3 percent to 1.86 million existing homes on the market — a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in November. The median time that all homes spent on the market in December was 72 days, a big change from the November median of 56 days. In December 2012, all homes spent a median of 73 days on the market.

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