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Summary Box: Pending home sales rise in December

Associated Press Modified: January 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm •  Published: January 27, 2011

By The Associated Press (AP) — PENDING SALES: The number of people who signed contracts to buy previously owned homes rose 2 percent in December, the fifth increase in the past six months.

ROUGH YEAR: Home sales last year fell to the lowest level in 13 years, and economists say it will be years before the housing market fully recovers.

SLIGHTLY BETTER: Contract signings occur one- to two-months before the closing, so completed sales should improve in the first few months of this year.