The National Association of Realtors released existing homes sales figures in the U.S. on Friday. Sales of existing homes rose 14.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million in December from 4.76 in November.
Analysts had expected an increase to 5.20 million units.
"While the carryover of November's delayed transactions into December contributed greatly to the sharp increase, the overall pace taken together indicates sales these last two months maintained the healthy level of activity seen in most of 2015," the NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said.
Sales to first-time buyers rose to 32% in December from 31% in November.
"First-time buyers were for the most part held back once again in 2015 by rising rents and home prices, competition from vacation and investment buyers and supply shortages. While these headwinds show little signs of abating, the cumulative effect of strong job growth in recent years and young renters' overwhelming interest to own a home5 should lead to a modest uptick in first-time buyer activity in 2016," Yun said.