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Home sales jump for fifth time in six months

Home sales jump again in December, perhaps signaling stability in the housing market.

Home sales jump again in December, perhaps signaling stability in the housing market.

While consumers were out window shopping for gift ideas this past December, apparently they were also out home shopping.

According to the National Association of Realtors, prospective movers were shaking up the housing market last month, as existing home sales rose for the fifth time in six months.

"December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR. "The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery."

Indeed, the share of first-time homebuyers in the market increased to 32 percent in November, but first-timers surpassed that rate in December as the rate jumped to 33 percent.

Existing home sales - which includes single-family, condominiums, townhomes and co-ops - rose 12.3 percent, which seasonally adjusted translates to a pace of 5.28 million homes sold. Again, that's up from November when existing homes were at a pace of 4.70 million homes.

The housing recovery takes on added resonance when looking at specific regions of the country that have been hardest hit. According to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, single-family home sales rose 12.2 in December as prices in the area continue to fall.