The number of people who have signed contracts to buy existing homes is up for the second straight month.
The month of August saw a 4.3 percent rise in contracts signed. Still, that number is more than 20 percent below last year's pace.
The sales report for the last month of summer showed a nearly 7 percent jump in the South, 6 percent increase in the West, and a 2 percent rise in the Midwest.
Unemployment, weak job growth and poor credit have hurt the housing market, even with the lowest mortgage rates in decades. However, sales picked up in the spring when the government offered home buyers tax credits of up to $8,000. After the incentives expired April 30, sales began to decline.
Completed sales of previously occupied homes increased in August, but at the second-slowest annual pace in more than a decade. July's pace was the slowest in 15 years.