Is it real? Or just another false start on the road to a housing recovery?
Sales of previously owned homes rose to an 11-month high in December and the supply of properties on the market tumbled to a near 7-year low, pointing to a nascent recovery in the housing market.
The National Association of Realtors said on Friday existing home sales increased 5 percent month over month to an annual rate of 4.61 million units.
November's sales pace was revised down to a 4.39 million-unit pace, previously reported as a 4.42 million-unit rate.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales to rise to a 4.65 million-unit sales pace. Sales in December were up 3.6 percent from a year ago. A total of 4.26 million homes were sold in 2011, up 1.7 percent from the prior year.
"A sector of the economy that has been a large weight on growth has started to stabilize over the last few months and we will continue to look for momentum in 2012," said John Doyle, currency strategist at Tempus Consulting in Washington.
The third straight month of gains in sales added to hopes that a tentative recovery in the housing market was starting to take shape, but progress will be painfully slow given a glut of unsold properties that is weighing down on prices.
If I were in the market to buy, it will probably never get much better than this. Very low interest rates, reasonable home prices, and the prospect that your investment will rise in value at a point in the near future.
Hopefully, a lot of other people will see it that way too and start a real recovery in the housing sector.