Pending home sales at 2 1/2-year high

Pending sales of existing homes rose to the highest level in two-and-a-half years in November, and gains are expected to continue in the new year.  The National Association of Realtors says the number of contracts signed to buy an existing home last month rose 1.7 percent from November. Pending sales were up 9.8 percent from a year earlier.

Mortgage rates tick up, above record low (USAToday)

Average rates on fixed mortgages ticked up this week just slightly above their record lows, keeping home-buying and refinancing attractive. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year loans ticked up to 3.34%, from last week’s 3.32%. Two weeks ago, the rate dipped to 3.31%, lowest on records dating to 1971. The average rate on 15-year fixed mortgages rose to 2.67% from 2.64% last week. The rate declined to 2.63% two weeks ago, also a record low.