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US home sales in 2016 were the highest for a decade

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales in the US closed out 2016 as the best year in a decade, even as sales declined in December as the result of ongoing affordability tensions and historically low supply levels.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, finished 2016 at 5.45m sales and surpassed 2015 (5.25m) as the highest since 2006 (6.48m).

In December, existing sales decreased 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49m in December from an upwardly revised 5.65m in November. With last month’s slide, sales are only 0.7% higher than a year ago.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $232,200, up 4.0% from December 2015 ($223,200). December's price increase marks the 58th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 10.8% to 1.65m existing homes available for sale, which is the lowest level since NAR began tracking the supply of all housing types in 1999. Inventory is 6.3% lower than a year ago and has fallen year-over-year for 19 straight months and is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace (3.9 months in December 2015).

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