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Sales Of Existing Homes Rose 1.7 Percent In 2011

A sold sign last August in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A sold sign last August in San Francisco.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

An estimated 4.26 million existing homes were sold last year, up 1.7 percent from the 4.19 million in 2010, the National Association of Realtors just reported.

That's a modest gain, but a recovery from the previous year's pace. In 2010, according to NAR, sales of existing homes fell 3.5 percent from the previous year. Still, sales remain well below the pre-housing bubble bust pace of 2007. That year, 5.04 million homes were sold — 15.5 percent more than in 2011.

In December, the Realtors group said, sales were up 5 percent from the month before and were selling at a 4.61 million annual rate. That's an 11-month high and could be pointing to "a nascent recovery in the housing market," Reuters says.

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