Home buying cooled in December, but is still stronger than it was a year ago.
A monthly index from the National Association of Realtors measuring signed contracts to buy existing homes fell 3.7 percent from a downwardly revised November reading, but it is 6.1 percent above December of 2013. This, after closed sales in December (contracts signed one to two months earlier) rose 2.4 percent from November.
"Total inventory fell in December for the first time in 16 months, resulting in fewer choices for buyers and a modest uptick in price growth in markets throughout the country," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the association. "With interest rates at lows not seen since early 2013, the strength in existing sales in upcoming months will largely depend on the willingness of current homeowners to realize their equity gains from the past couple years and trade up."