As we move forward with the new year, why not reflect on 2010 by seeing what Intero President & CEO Gino Blefari thinks about the news from the National Association of Realtors that existing home sales climbed 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual of 5.28 million homes in December? Read on for Gino’s thoughts…

[This is] good news for the nation’s housing markets. But what caused this end-of-year surge? It’s hard to say for sure, but likely the result of a number of things:

  1. Positive signs in the jobs market
  2. Interest rates expected to rise
  3. Rock-bottom prices in many markets are creating great value for today’s buyers.
  4. Rising rents in many markets are making ownership more attractive to first-time buyers.

I think the energy of home sales in December is a great sign for our markets in 2011. NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said that the pace of December sales is in line with expectations for sales volume throughout 2011. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum.

What can buyers, sellers, fence-sitters and real estate agents do with this information? Well, for those buyers on the fence, I would take this as a sign of coming urgency. If you’re in the market to buy, you may want to make your move sooner rather than later. Interest rates are expected to rise, and each little uptick can drastically change your buying power and affordability range.

For sellers, I wouldn’t take this as a sign that you can start raising prices and play hardball. Rather, you’ll need to watch your local market closely for trends and price accordingly. Agents will also want to continue to monitor their local markets closely. Just because sales increased nationally in December, doesn’t mean the same is true for your local market. Your local market may have shown a steady rise all of last year or it may still be in a lull. Your customers are counting on you to know what’s happening.

Many markets are expecting a slow but steady recovery in 2011. Let’s keep our ears to the ground and encourage each other to make the smartest decisions for our individual situations. For some, this might mean buying the home of their dreams in 2011. For others, it might mean selling and moving up.

The theme this year as we’ll see more and more is that no two markets are identical.