WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people bought previously owned homes last year than in any year since 1997. But home sales in December jumped to fastest pace in seven months.

The National Association of Realtors says sales fell 4.8 percent to 4.91 million units in 2010, the weakest performance in 13 years.

Home prices have been depressed by a record number of foreclosures and high unemployment. Many potential buyers held off on purchases last year, fearful that prices hadn’t bottomed out yet.

Some economists this 2011 will be even weaker, with more foreclosures expected.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.