WASHINGTON — Sales of existing U.S. homes edged up slightly in December, helping to lift sales for the year to the highest level in seven years.
The National Association of Realtors says sales increased to an annual rate of 4.87 million units last month, up 1 percent from the November sales pace. However, both months represented a slower pace of sales than earlier in 2013, reflecting the drag from higher mortgage rates and higher home prices.
For all of 2013, sales totaled 5.09 million, the best performance since 2006, when sales totaled 6.48 million. However, the sales gains in both 2005 and 2006 represented an unsustainable housing bubble. Analysts say a more normal sales pace currently would be around 5.5 million units.
The median price of an existing home rose 11.5 percent last year to $197,100, the highest in eight years.