US pending home sales rise to highest level in nearly 3 years

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A for sale sign stands in front of a home in Miami, Florida. A measure of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes increased last month to its highest level in two and a half years, the latest sign of improvement in the once-battered housing market.

A measure of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes increased last month to its highest level in two and a half years, the latest sign of improvement in the once-battered housing market.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 1.7 percent in November from October to 106.4. That's the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer tax credit caused a spike in sales. And after excluding those few months when the tax credit was available, it's the best reading since February 2007.

The increase points to higher sales of previously occupied homes in the coming months. There's generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

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