More Americans than ever before purchased homes in 1997. A strong stock market fueled trade-up purchases by middle-aged owners and younger buyers snapped up the vacated homes, made affordable by some of the lowest mortgage rates in three decades.
“The market’s booming. There’s no other word for it,” said economist Mark Zandi of Regional Financial Associates in West Chester, Pa. “It’s probably the best barometer of how good the economy is right now.”
Though sales of existing single-family homes slid 2.1 percent from November to December, annual sales of such residences hit 4.21 million in 1997, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That’s a 3.1 percent increase over the 4.09 million homes sold last year, which previously had marked the best year since the group began tracking sales in 1968.