The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, edged up 0.3% to 99.5 in September from 99.2 in August and is 14.5% above September 2011 when it was 86.9. The data reflect contracts but not closings.
"Home contract activity remains at an elevated level in contrast with recent years, but currently appears to be bouncing around in a narrow range," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "This means only minor movement is likely in near-term existing-home sales, but with positive underlying market fundamentals they should continue on an uptrend in 2013."
Pending home sales have risen for 17 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. In September, all regions showed double-digit increases in contract activity from a year ago with the exception of the West.
The PHSI in the Northeast rose 1.4% to 79.3 in September and is 26.1% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 5.8% to 89.5 in September but is 19.3% above September 2011. Pending home sales in the South increased 1.0% to an index of 111.5 in September and are 17.6% higher than a year ago. In the West, the index rose 4.3% in September to 106.9, but is only 0.8% above September 2011.