The number of contracts signed to buy previously owned homes rose slightly in September after an August decline, a sign the housing recovery remains uneven.
Pending sales of existing homes increased 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted index level of 105 in September from August, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. An index level of 100 is considered an average level of contract activity. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast the index would rise 1% last month.
The data reflect purchases put under contract but have yet to close. The sales tallied for the pending-sales index typically close a month or two later.
“Overall housing activity remains uninspiring and we expect only a gradual improvement in investment,” said BNP Paribas economist Bricklin Dwyer.
August pending sales fell 1% from the month before. The decline was unrevised in Monday’s release. Pending home sales were up 1% last month from September 2013.
Regionally, Monday’s report showed stronger activity in the Northeast and South in September, and the fourth straight decline for pending sales in the Midwest. Pending sales in the West fell slightly.