Sales (ETSLTOTL) of previously owned homes rose 5 percent in December from the previous month to the highest level since January 2011, the National Association of Realtors said last week. Distressed properties -- comprising foreclosures and short sales, where the price is less than the mortgage balance -- accounted for almost a third of all purchases.
The number of Americans signing contracts to buy existing houses fell 3.5 percent last month after a 7.3 percent gain in November, figures from the Realtors showed yesterday.
Home-loan applications decreased in the period ended Jan. 20 after jumping 23 percent in the prior week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The measure of purchase loans dropped 5.4 percent, while the refinancing index fell 5.2 percent, the Washington-based group said yesterday.
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