Pending sales based on contracts signed -- contracts that will likely close by the end of February -- rose 2 percent in the month, putting the Pending Home Sales Index at 93.7, the trade group said.
Pending home sales rose 3.5 percent in November, following a 10.4 percent jump in October.
The index pulled up to 4.2 percent below December 2009, as the 12-month gap is closing. In October, the index was 20.5 percent below October 2009.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement, "Modest gains in the labor market and the improving economy are creating a favorable backdrop for buyers, allowing them to take advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions."
The trade group said the pending home sales index rose 1.8 percent to 73.9 in December in the Northeast and 8 percent to 84.6 in the Midwest. In the South, the index jumped 11.5 percent to 101.9. In the West, the index dropped 13.2 percent to 105.8.