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Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its Pending Home Sales Report for January. It showed that pending home sales improved notably, with the seasonally adjusted national index jumping 4.5% from December and increasing 9.5% above the level seen in January 2012.

Meanwhile, NARs Chief Economist Lawrence Yun suggests that while contract activity is on the rise, overall sales for 2013 are projected to increase less than in 2012 as prices should continue to climb: "Over the near term, rising contract activity means higher home sales, but total sales for the year are expected to rise less than in 2012, while home prices are projected to rise more strongly because of inventory shortages."

The following chart shows the seasonally adjusted national pending home sales index, along with the percent change on a year-over-year basis and the percent change from the peak set in 2005.

Source: Pending Home Sales: January 2013