NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sales of existing homes jumped in December, marking the fifth month of gains in the past six months, based on an industry report released Thursday.
Previously-owned home sales climbed 12.3% in December to an annual rate of 5.28 million, from 4.70 million in November, according to the National Association of Realtors.
That puts sales at the highest level since the homebuyer tax credit expired in June, said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group.
The December rate came in much higher than expected. A consensus of experts surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast an annualized sales rate of 4.8 million. However, sales were down 2.9% from 12 months earlier and fell 4.7% in 2010.
Are we seeing a rebound in Americans' demand for home buying? We could be, according to today's existing home sales report from the National Association of Realtors. Sales increased 12.3% to the annualized rate of 5.28 million. That soundly beat expectations of 4.88 million sales. December was the first month to exceed the 5 million annual sales pace since June, when the market was still benefiting from the home buyer credit. Is this an indication that sales are rebounding or is this just a blip?
First, here's the chart, which provides some perspective on just how much better December's sales were: