WASHINGTON, June 30 Contracts to buy previously
owned U.S. homes hit an eight-month high in May, the latest
indication that housing was pulling out of a recent soft patch.
The National Association of Realtors said on Monday its
Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month,
increased 6.1 percent to 103.9, the highest level since
September of last year.
The percent increase was the largest since April 2010, just
before the expiration of a tax credit for first-time home
buyers, and it beat economists' expectations for a 1.5 percent
advance. Signed contracts lead existing home sales by a month or
Home sales fell last summer after the U.S. Federal Reserve
signaled it would soon reduce its economic stimulus efforts,
which pushed interest rates higher. Compared to May of last
year, sales were down 5.2 percent.
Contracts increased in all regions of the country, with the
Northeast and West experiencing the largest gains.
(Reporting by Moriah Costa; Editing by Paul Simao)