WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people signing contracts to purchase homes inched up last month, lifted by unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast.

WASHINGTON (AP) The number of people signing contracts to purchase homes inched up last month, lifted by unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast.

The National Association of Realtors says that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index crept up 0.1 percent to 106.8. Signed contracts jumped 6.1 percent in the Northeast, while they declined in the other three major U.S. regions.

The small increase suggests home sales may plateau this year after a solid increase in 2016. Rising home prices and a lack of available homes for sale are frustrating many would-be buyers.

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