FXstreet.com (Barcelona) - Sales of existing homes have posted a strong increase in December following two consecutive declines in previous months, against the market expectations of another decline, as data by the National Association of Realtors show.

Existing home sales have increased 6.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.74 million units in December, from 4.45 million annual rate in November. Market analysts had advanced a slight decline to a seasonally adjusted annual rate4 of 4.40 million.

Despite December's increase the existing homes sales pace remains yet at unusually low levels, year on year, sales have declined 3.5% from the 4.91 million unit pace posted in December 2007. In the whole 2008 the volume of sales was 4.109 million, the lowest level since 1997.

Home prices continue declining, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist: It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices, he said. The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but the market is still far from normal balanced conditions. Buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.