By Diana Olick, CNBC Real Estate Reporter
NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- No, I'm not about to throw a huge bucket of water on a really nice monthly stat that is infusing a modicum of hope in the housing market. I just want to put it all in perspective. New home sales surged 17.5 percent in December, month-to-month, according to the Commerce Department, and that brought inventories way down to a 6.9 month supply (the total number of new homes for sale also fell to the lowest level since 1968). Prices of new construction actually bumped up significantly as well, up 8.5 percent year over year. It's important to remember that this particular data series is based on contracts signed in December and not closings, as the Existing Home Sales survey from the National Association of Realtors is. So what happened in December?
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