WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rose modestly in November as a strengthening economy helped nudge some would-be homebuyers.

WASHINGTON (AP) The number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rose modestly in November as a strengthening economy helped nudge some would-be homebuyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index climbed 0.8 percent the past month to 104.8. The index remains slightly below its 2013 average but is 4.1 percent higher than last November.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Housing has struggled to fully rebound since the recession ended more than five years ago. Many potential buyers lack the savings and strong credit history needed to afford a home, causing them to rent or remain in their existing houses instead of upgrading.