NORMAN — The recent spike in gasoline prices and slower tax refunds has put a damper on some retail activity. Wal-Mart is reporting it expects sales to slow a bit. The U.S. housing market, however, is reporting brisk sales activity and higher prices.
The National Association of Realtors reports sales rose 0.4 percent in January compared to December. It’s the second highest sales pace since 2009. That year a temporary homebuyer tax credit helped boost sales.
The median price of a home sold in January was $173,600. That’s up more than 12 percent from a year earlier. Increased sales prices are signficant since many homeowners ended up with more debt than their homes were worth in the last four years.
In 2012, according to the Associated Press, 4.66 million homes were sold. That’s a 9.4 percent rise over 2011.
A tighter supply kept that number from going higher.
Forecasts for 2013 are for even more growth. With hiring picking up and the continuance of near record low interest rates, economists project even more sales.