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Pending home sales down in January

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Homebuyers signed fewer contracts for existing homes in January compared to December, but more compared to January 2009, according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors. The index dropped 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 90.4 from an upwardly revised 97.8 the month before; the index rose 12.3 percent year-over-year, however, from 80.5, the report said. The association's Pending Home Sales Index is based on the number of signed contracts for resale homes including single-family homes, condominiums and co-ops. An index score of 100 corresponds to the average level of contract activity for the index's base year, 2001, when activity was at a record high, the association said. The data comes from more than 100 multiple listing services and 60 large brokers nationwide and represents 20 percent of all transactions. "January pending sales, though still higher than one year ago, remain much lower than expected given that a la...