Existing home sales ended 2012 on a little bit of a down note, dropping from 4.99 million (seasonally adjusted annual rate) for November to 4.94 million for December, according to the home sale cheerleaders the National Association of Realtors . Overall, 2012 was a strong year for existing home sales. The NAR's preliminary annual total is 4.65 million--the highest total since 2007. From the NAR release: Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said pent-up demand is sustaining the market. "Record low mortgage interest rates clearly are helping many home buyers, but tight inventory and restrictive mortgage underwriting standards are limiting sales," he said. "The number of potential buyers who stayed on the sidelines accumulated during the recession, but they started entering the market early last year as their financial ability and confidence steadily grew, along with home prices. Likely job creation and household formation will continue to fuel that growth. Both sales and prices will again be higher in 2013." According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was a record low 3.35 percent in December, the same in November; it was 3.96 percent in December 2011. Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 8.5 percent to 1.82 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.4-month supply 2 at the current sales pace, down from 4.8 months in November, and is the lowest housing supply since May of 2005 when it was 4.3 months, which was near the peak of the housing boom. Listed inventory is 21.6 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.4-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since January 2001 when there were 1.78 million homes on the market. The national median existing-home price3 for all housing types was $180,800 in December, which is 11.5 percent above December 2011. This is the 10th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, which last occurred from August 2005 to May 2006, and is the strongest increase since November 2005 when it jumped 12.9 percent. Read the full release here .