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The numbers: Existing-home sales decreased 4.6% between November and December, hitting a seasonally-adjusted, annual rate of 6.18 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Compared to a year ago, sales were down more than 7%.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had projected existing-home sales to come in at 6.48 million.

Overall in 2021, though, existing-home sales reached the highest level since 2006, a sign of the strong demand among buyers nationwide in light of the short supply of properties on the market.