For the fourth consecutive year, sales of existing single-family homes set a record in 2004, despite December sales that were down slightly from November's record pace. Sales of existing single-family homes totaled 6.675 million last year, up 9.4% from 6.1 million in 2003, says the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales slipped to an annual rate of 6.69 million units in December, down 3.3% from November's revised record-tying rate of 6.92 million units.
The December decline was expected, says David Lereah, NAR's chief economist. "Our sense is that November sales were the peak for the current housing cycle, but activity remains strong," he states. "There is no sign of a downturn. Home sales will continue at historically high levels, and 2005 is expected to be the second-best year on record for the housing market."