March Pending Home Sales Jump 5.1%

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- Pending home sales jumped 5.1% in March, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Thursday morning.

An index that measures the number of contracts signed to buy previously owned homes in the U.S. jumped 5.1% in March month-over-month to a reading of 94.1, from a downwardly revised reading of 89.5 in February . The figure remained 11.4% below year-earlier levels.

Economists had expected the figure to rise 1.7%.

Pending home sales are viewed as an indicator of future home sales since they reflect contracts -- not closings -- and generally occur with a lag time of one to two months.

Data released on Monday showed that new-home sales jumped 11.1% in March to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 300,000 units , a bigger jump than expected. March's new-home sales figure remained 21.9% below year-earlier levels.

Last week the National Association of Realtors reported that existing-home sales rose 3.7% in March to a slightly better-than-expected seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.1 million units.

March's rate of home resales remained 6.3% below year-earlier levels, and 24.8% below the cyclical peak of 6.49 million units in Nov. 2009, which was the first month following the initial deadline for the first-time homebuyer tax credit .

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