An index that gauges pending sales of previously owned homes dropped 24.2 percent in December 2007 compared to December 2007, the National Association of Realtors reported, and the group expects sales to drop 4.8 percent this year compared to last year. The Pending Home Sales Index stood at 85.9 in December 2007. The index is based on contracts signed, and it is considered a leading indicator because a sale is typically finalized within one to two months of signing. An index score of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity in 2001, which was the first year examined for the index and the first of five consecutive years of record sales of resale homes. Regionally, the index dropped 27 percent in the South, 26 percent in the Northeast, 24.1 percent in the West and 17....
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