Signed contracts for previously owned homes rose slightly in November, suggesting that the sluggish housing market strengthened a bit near year's end.
The National Assn. of Realtors said Wednesday that its pending-sales index inched up 0.8% from October and was up 4.1% from November 2013.
The index tracks signed, but not closed, contracts. Sales usually become final within one to two months.
"The consistent economic growth and steady hiring we've seen the second half of this year is giving buyers enough assurance to consider purchasing a home before year's end," said the Realtors' chief economist, Lawrence Yun.
Pending sales rose in every region except the Midwest, where they fell 0.4% from October. In the West, sales climbed 0.4%.
After a robust recovery in 2013, many Americans pulled out of the housing market in 2014, unable, or unwilling, to pay higher prices for a home.
The Realtors association said Wednesday that it expects closed sales of previously owned homes to be around 4.94 million in 2014, a 3% drop from the previous year.