The pace of existing-home sales rose 6.5 percent in December compared to the previous month but was down 3.5 percent compared to December 2007, the National Association of Realtors reported today, and the median price of resale homes dipped for the sixth straight month.

The median price of U.S. resale homes was $175,400 in December, down 15.3 percent compared to December 2007. Regionally, the median price dropped 31.5 percent in the West, 11.4 percent in the Midwest, 8 percent in the South and 7.8 percent in the Northeast in December compared to the same month last year.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of resale home sales — which is a measure of a monthly sales rate projected over a 12-month period and adjusted to account for typical seasonal fluctuations in sales activity — jumped 31.6 percent in the West while falling 14.3 percent in the Northeast, 11.2 percent in the South and 10.3 percent in the Midwest year-over-year in December.

The estimated supply of resale homes for sale in December, based on the sales rate for that month, dropped 17 percent vs. November — to 9.3 months — and fell 4.1 percent compared to the December 2007 rate, according to the report.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that activity for new-home building permits and starts hit a record low in December, with the rate of building-permit activity plummeting about 50.6 percent compared to the same month last year (see Inman News).

A separate report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency last week found that U.S. home prices dropped 1.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from October to November, and for the 12-month period ending in November the index dropped 8.7 percent (see Inman News).

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