In Florida, one of first markets to fall, home sales are up

MANATEE — A December sales surge helped the local housing market buck the national trend and close last year on a high note, according to data released Monday.

Local Realtors sold 872 existing single-family homes in December, a 43 percent jump from the 610 they sold in the same month a year earlier, the Florida Association of Realtors said. Sales soared in Sarasota-Bradenton and throughout Florida, capping a turnaround year for both markets.

U.S. sales of previously occupied homes fell by nearly 17 percent last month, the largest monthly drop in more than 40 years, the National Association of Realtors said.

The reports had economists questioning if the national housing recovery is on solid footing. But local Realtors say they've been too busy to contemplate the issue.

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