Sales of existing homes increased 1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million for December, according to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) report released today. 2013 existing-home sales came in at their highest full-year level since 2006, jumping 9.1% from 2012 to 5.09 million sales.

After a steeper-than-expected dip in November, analysts had hoped for a slightly stronger December rebound to 4.9 million. 

2013 sales soared 9.1% higher, to 5.09 million total sales, over 2012. The numbers include completed transactions on single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and co-ops.

"Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a statement today. "We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population."

As sales headed higher, prices have increased accordingly. The median 2013 existing-home price was $197,100, 11.5% higher than 2012's number and the strongest gain since 2005..

At current December levels and sales pace, the existing housing inventory equates to a 4.6-month supply, down significantly from November's 5.1 months.

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