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Pending Home Sales Rise 4.9% In December

Pending home sales rose 4.9% in December, providing another sign that there may be some stablization in the housing market, the National Association of Realtors said.

The pending home sales index, which is based on contracts signed in December, rose to 112.4 from from an upwardly revised level of 107.2 in November. The monthly gains was largest increase since March 2004, when the index rose 6.9%, and it put the index at its highest level since June. However, when compared with the year-ago period, it was down 4.4%.

"Some of the monthly gain may be weather related, but it appears buyers are becoming more comfortable, sensing the timing is good and that their local market has bottomed out," said David Lereah, chief economist for the realtors, in a press release. "I expect modest sales gains throughout the year, with what I believe are sustainable levels of activity."

This past December was one of the warmest Decembers on record. Temperatures were particularly mild in the Midwest and Northeast.

Pending home sales increased in all four regions. Pending sales rose 8.1% in the Northeast, 5.3% in the West, 4.3% in the South and 3.2% in the Midwest. On a year-over-year basis, pending sales are down between 4% and 5% in all four regions.