Sales of pre-owned homes shot up 16.2% in January, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

Sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.04 million units in January, a new monthly record, from a pace of 5.20 million units in December. The consensus estimate was for 5.25 million units.

Low interest rates were only one reason for record home sales in January, the association said.

"In January, consumer confidence on expectations for the future was the highest in 13 months," said Daivd Lereah, chief economist at National Association of Realtors, in a statement. "Since purchasing a home is a long-term investment, this bodes well for the continuing strength of the housing market."

Regionally, home resales in the West surged 23.3% between December and January to an annual rate of 1.64 million units, while they grew by 16.4% in the Northeast, and 16.1% in the South.

The national median existing home price was $151,000 in January, up 10.2% from a year ago.

Throughout the current economic downturn, consumers have continued to put money into their homes. On Monday, home improvement storeowner Lowe's ( LOW) reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. In recent trading, the stock was up 2.6%, while Home Depot ( HD) was ahead 1%.

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