December Existing Homes in South Rise 10 Per.

Existing-home sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months in December according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing home sales – which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – jumped 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from a revised 4.70 million in November.

December’s total, however, remains 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in the same month of 2009.

Regionally, the South’s existing-home sales increased 10.1 percent to an annual pace of 1.97 million in December, but are 2.5 percent below December 2009. The median price in the South was $148,400, unchanged from a year ago.

Existing homes in the West rose the highest of all regions in December to 16.7, but median price took a 5.6 percent dip to $204,000.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said sales have reached a tipping point.

“December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal,” Yun said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”