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Pending Home Sales Fall 16 Percent

Remember last fall, when the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit was set to expire November 30?

Well, so do buyers. The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, which measures properties in contract but not yet closed, dropped a horrifying 16 percent in November. It looks like first-time buyers -- who are half of the current homebuying market -- decided to cool their heels and see if the tax credit would be extended.

Which, by the way, it was. Now a buyer can get the credit if he/she is in contract by April 30 for a June 30 closing (and you don't need to be a first-time buyer to get it now).

So we should see another bump in the pending home sales index as the last buyers who want to grab the credit make up a spring rush.

In broader-brush terms, the index had been rising for nine straight months. A story by Rex Nutting of Marketwatch notes that the November 2009 numbers are 15.5 percent higher than those of a year ago.

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