March pending home sales rise

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1% to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February and is 12.8% above March 2011 when it was 89.9, according to the National Association of Realtors. The data reflect contracts but not closings.

The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it was 111.3.

“First-quarter sales closings were the highest first-quarter sales in five years,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good.

“The housing market has clearly turned the corner. Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses,” he added.

The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.8% to 78.2 in March but is 21.1% above March 2011. In the Midwest, the index declined 0.9% to 93.3 but is 16.9% higher than a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 5.9% to an index of 114.1 in March and are 10.6% above March 2011. In the West, the index increased 8.7% in March to 108.0 and is 9.0% above a year ago.