Pending home sales in the U.S. gained slightly in November, after dropping for five straight months, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The index -- reflecting contracts and not closed sales -- edged up 0.2 percent to 101.7 in November, from a downwardly revised 101.5 in October. However, it is 1.6 percent below November last year. Monthly increases in the South and West offset drops in the Northeast and Midwest.
Even though 2013 proved to be a strong year for home sales, the market is flattening, NAR reports.
"We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014," Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in the report. "Although the final months of 2013 are finishing on a soft note, the year as a whole will end with the best sales total in seven years."
For the majority of the country, it remains a buyers market, but higher mortgage rates and strong price gains will create more modest growth in values in 2014, according to NAR.
Total existing-home sales are expected to reach 5.1 million this year, increasing almost 10 percent from 2012, and remain at that level in 2014. Sales are forecast to increase to 5.3 million in 2015, according to NAR.
The median existing-home price nationwide for 2013 will be close to $197,300, gaining almost 12 percent from last year. Going forward, the median price is expected to rise at a more moderate pace of five to 5.5 percent in 2014, and increase four percent in 2015.
More from the report:
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.7 percent to 82.6 in November, but is 1.9 percent above a year ago.
In the Midwest the index fell 3.1 percent to 100.6 in November, but is 0.4 percent higher than November 2012.
Pending home sales in the South rose 2.3 percent to an index of 116.1 in November, and are 0.1 percent above a year ago.
The index in the West increased 1.8 percent in November to 95.0, but is 8.7 percent below November 2012, in part from inventory constraints.