Housing rebound continues with strong sales, price gains
Home prices up 12.3%
The housing rebound continued in January: The pace of home sales stayed strong and prices gained the most since the boom days.
The National Association of Realtors reported that previously-owned homes sold at an annual pace of 4.92 million homes, 9 percent higher than this time last year.
Home prices were up 12.3 percent, taking the median to $173,600. That marked the biggest percentage gain since January 2005.
The price rise is being driven by tight inventories, increased demand from buyers, and a drop in sales of distressed homes, such as those in foreclosure.
There were 1.74 million previously-owned homes on the market, equal to only about a four-month supply at current sales levels. It's the tightest inventory of homes on the market since 1999.
And distressed home sales made up only 23 percent of January sales, compared to 35 percent of sales a year ago.
The housing market has been helped by a number of factors in recent months, including near record low mortgage rates and a drop in the nation's unemployment rate.
Home construction has also been improving -- builders filed for the greatest number of building permits in more than four years in January.
Even if you're not trying to sell your home, the improvement is good news: It is an important driver of overall economic growth.
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