Contracts to buy U.S. homes up sharply in May
Washington • The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes shot up in May. But the pace of buying this year remains slower than in 2013, in part because of sluggish sales during winter.
The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 6.1 percent to 103.9 last month. It was the sharpest month-over-month gain in more than four years. The index remains 5.2 percent below its level a year ago.
Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.
Lower mortgage rates and increased supplies of homes on the market drove much of the gains. Signed contracts in May rose in all four U.S. regions: the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.