Home resales up, new-home sales slide

On the cusp of Christmas, Santa's real estate bag offers goodies and some lumps of coal.

First, the good news: First-time buyers taking advantage of the government's tax-credit incentive helped yank sales of previously owned homes up by 7.4% in November from October, according to the National Association of Realtors, a trade association. Sales are up 44.1% from a year ago, with about half of them generated by first-time buyers.