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Pending real estate sales inch up in July

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More homebuyers signed purchase contracts in July than the month before, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors. An index that tracks pending home sales nationwide rose 5.2 percent in July, to 79.4, after hitting a downwardly revised 75.5 in June. May and June both marked record lows following the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credits. The index tracks signed, but not closed, purchase contracts for resale homes. An index of 100 indicates the average contract activity in the index's 2001 base year, which was a record year for existing-home sales. Significantly, July's Pending Home Sales Index remained down 19.1 percent compared to July 2009. New-home and existing-home sales both tumbled considerably month-to-month and year-over-year in July. "Home sales will remain soft in the months ahead, but improved affordability conditions should help with a recovery," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, in a statement. "But ...