Condo, Co-op Sales Increase, Surge Led by West

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington, D.C.–Existing-home sales for condos and co-ops rose while inventory declined, led by a surge of sales in the West, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales for condos and co-ops jumped 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 480,000 units in December from 470,000 units in November but are 18.5 percent below the 588,000-unit pace in December 2007. Sales in the West rose 13.6 percent since last year to 100,000 units in December.Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says home prices continue to fall significantly. “It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices,” he says. “The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but the market is still far from normal balanced conditions. Buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.”Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 480,000 units in December from 470,000 in November, but are 18.4 percent below the 588,000-unit level a year ago.  For all of 2008, condo sales dropped 21.0 percent to 563,000 units. The median existing condo price was $181,400 in December, down 18.3 percent from December 2007.  For all of 2008, the median condo price was $210,000, which is 7.2 percent below 2007.Yun says the market is under performing and hurting the broader economy. “We’ve added 25 million people to our population over the past decade and housing affordability conditions are the best we’ve seen since 1973, but household formation is much lower than expected,” he says. “Consequently, there is a pent-up demand which could be unleashed with the right stimulus, including a non-repayable home buyer tax credit. The Obama administration and Congress need to move fast to stimulate a spring sales upturn which will help to stabilize home prices and set the foundation for a sustainable economic recovery.”Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 11.7 percent to 3.68 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.3-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 11.2-month supply in November.Home sales—including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops—jumped 6.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.74 million units in December from a downwardly revised pace of 4.45 million units in November, but are 3.5 percent below the 4.91 million-unit pace in December 2007.