NAR: Existing home sales up for 2009

Sales for existing homes were up when compared to 2008.
Sales for existing homes were up when compared to 2008.
A recent report from the National Association of Realtors shows that sales for existing homes were up in 2009, which may be a mixed blessing for those who use construction equipment to build houses.

According to the NAR, 5,156,000 homes were sold in 2009, which is 4.9 percent higher than the 4,913,000 homes that were sold in 2008. The increase in 2009 was the first annual increase reported by the organization since 2005.

For December of 2009, sales of existing homes were down 16.7 percent when compared to November's annuitized level of 6.54 million units. However, the annual rate of 5.45 million homes sold in December was still 15 percent over numbers posted in the same month in 2008.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that though it is "significant" that home sales are higher than levels posted a year ago, the housing market is still feeling the back-and-forth effects of the government's tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

"We’ll likely have another surge in the spring as home buyers take advantage of the extended and expanded tax credit," Yun said.

The tax credit put forward by the government gives first-time buyers an $8,000 incentive to purchase a home. Though it was originally set to expire in November, the government extended it to last through the end of April.