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BMO and Harris Private Bank Release 2011 Study

The uptick in existing home sales to end 2011 is, obviously, a positive industry trend, and a new study released by ""BMO Economics"":www.bmonesbittburns.com/economics/ and ""Harris Private Bank"":www.theharris.com/ indicates that the sales pace is likely to continue upward, based on data that shows increasing numbers of potential buyers are moving into the marketplace.

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Introducing the findings within the collaborative study, Doug Porter, deputy chief economist for BMO Economics, said, ""December's gain was the third rise in a row and is the highest number of sales since January of last year. It is now up 40 percent from the lows hit in July 2010.""

According to estimates from the report, sales during 2011 climbed a total of 2.5 percent, landing at 4.29 million units to end the year. The rise in sales is believed to ""erase"" the 3.4 percent drop shown during 2010.

Single-family home sales reached an 18-month high in December, and additionally, statistics showed that the tally of condos sold hit an eight-month high. The accumulation of existing homes felt some year-end relief as well, with the inventory of single-family units declining by 10 percent in December.

The share of first time buyers, however, is flagging, and only 31 percent of those purchasing homes in December of 2011 were making their initial entry into the housing market. Numbers of repeat purchasers rose to 48 percent of the total market share.

Porter continued his commentary on the survey, noting, ""The combined effects of record low mortgage rates, near record high affordability, a more promising economic recovery, job creation, and low prices are beckoning homebuyers out of the woodwork.""

Harris Private Bank's chief investment officer, Jack Ablin, also weighed in on the results of the study, saying, ""While some buyers may believe that better deals will be available for those that wait, stable prices and increased activity will go a long way to instill some urgency into buyers' psyche.""

The financial institution's senior vice president of retail lending extended his thoughts on the findings, stating, ""We are seeing some very encouraging signs in the housing sector and rising consumer confidence all of which is helping to drive this positive trend. With interest rates at historic lows and housing prices appearing to be stabilizing, more consumers have been contacting our branches and mortgage loan officers to determine which of our various mortgage loan products best meet their financial and home ownership goals"".

About Author: Abby Gregory

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