WASHINGTON (Reuters) â€” Home sales contracts signed in June unexpectedly rose across the country, but still were well below year-earlier levels, a real estate trade group said Thursday.
The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in June, was up 5.3% to 89.0 from a downwardly revised 84.5 in May.
It was the highest reading for the index since October, when it was at 89.8. But the index was 12.3% below year-ago levels.
The pickup in June signings was sharply contrary to forecasts by economists polled by Reuters, who had expected home sales contract signings to decline 1%.
The association's senior economist, Lawrence Yun, said the swings in monthly signings "indicates a housing market in transition."
"This is welcome news, because a rise in contract activity is necessary for an overall housing recovery," Yun said.
Contract signings rose in June by 9.3% in the South, by 4.6% in the West, 3.4% in the Northeast and 1.3% in the Midwest.
The realtors said the improvement in contract signings "appears to be broadening" and expressed hope that housing legislation signed into law last month will further encourage buyers. The legislation offers a tax credit to first-time home buyers and aims to ward off some foreclosures.
Surprise: June pending home sales rise - USATODAY.com