Pending home sales were up in March, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The pending home sales index rose 3.2 percent to 84.6 from 83.7 in March 2008. The index was also up from February’s index reading of 82.
In the South, the index rose even higher, up 7.7 percent from March 2008 to 93.2. The South's index for March was also up 8.5 percent from February.
It should take a few months for the market to gain momentum, said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a statement.
“This increase could be the leading edge of first-time buyers responding to very favorable affordability conditions and an $8,000 tax credit, which increases buying power even more in areas where special programs allow buyers to use it as a downpayment,” he said. “We need several months of sustained growth to demonstrate a recovery in housing, which is necessary for the overall economy to turn around.”
A pending home sales index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales, according to NAR.
NAR also released its housing affordability index figure, which fell from February but is still 30.8 percentage points higher than a year ago. The housing affordability index was 166.7 in March, compared to 174.4 in February.
The March figure was still near a record high for NAR’s housing affordability index, which has been published monthly since 1981.
An index reading of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced existing single-family home.