Pending home sales rose in March to 101.4 on the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index released this morning.  This is a 4.1 percent increase from the index in February which was adjusted upward with today's release from 96.5 to 97.4.  In March 2011 the Index was 89.9 so the numbers today represent a 12.8 percent increase.  The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking indicator of residential real estate activity that reflects contract signings but not closings.  A signed contract is generally expect to close in 60 to 90 days.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said 2012 is expected to be a year of recovery for housing.  "First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years.  The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good," he said. 

Pending sales were up in two regions in March and all four regions now stand well above levels of one year earlier.  In the Northeast pending sales were down 0.8 percent from February to March.  The Index is now at 78.2, 21.1 percent above the level in March 2011.  The Midwest also slipped slightly, declining 0.9 percent to 93.3.  This is an annual increase of 16.9 percent.  The South was up 5.9 percent from February and 10.6 percent year-over-year to 114.1 and the West increased 8.7 percent to 108.0, 9.0 percent above the March 2011 number.

The Pending Home Sale Index is based on a national sample that typically represents about 20 percent of transactions for existing home sales.  An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, the first year of the study. 

Pending Home Sales