Signed contracts to buy U.S. homes rose more than forecast in March as low interest rates drew buyers back into the market.
The index of pending home purchases rose 4.1 percent to 101.4, the highest level since April 2010, after a 0.4 percent gain in February that was revised from a previously estimated 0.5 percent drop, the National Association of Realtors reported today in Washington. The median forecast of 43 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 1 percent rise in the measure, which tracks contracts on previously owned homes.
“It’s good news,” said Sean Incremona, senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York. “It does suggest that improvement in the housing market is continuing.”
Compared with a year earlier, March pending home sales climbed 10.8 percent after a 14.9 percent surge in February.
Contracts to purchase previously owned homes increased solidly to a near two-year high in March, suggesting the spring selling season got off to a firmer start and offering hopes of a pickup in housing.
The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in March, jumped 4.1 percent to 101.4, the highest level since April 2010.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected signed contracts, which lead existing home sales by a month or two, to rise 1.0 percent after a previously reported 0.5 percent fall.
March’s strong rise in signed contracts pointed to a pick up in home resales after they stumbled in the past two months.
Signed contracts were up 12.8 percent in the 12 months to March.