The year ended positively for housing, marked by both the strongest existing-home sales and lowest foreclosure filings since before the recession. Despite rising mortgage rates during the last half of the year, pent-up buyer demand is driving the continued recovery.

December’s existing-home sales report, issued by the National Association of Realtors, showed a slight uptick in sales after three months of declines. Sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 1 percent in December.

For 2013, existing-home sales were 5.09 million, up 9.1 percent from 2012. It was the strongest performance since 2006, when sales totaled 6.48 million.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, said in a release that job growth, pent-up demand and low mortgage rates have helped existing-home sales rise by close to 20 percent since 2011