Pending home sales continued to inch higher in April with the National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index rising slightly to an index score of 106, a 0.3% increase from the March 105.7 score.
In April 2012, the index was hovering at 96.1, 10.3% lower than current figures.
Home contract activity reached its highest level since the index score hit 110.9 in April 2010. For the past 24 months, pending sales have been above year-ago levels.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, noted the development of a familiar pattern. "The housing market continues to squeak out gains from already very positive conditions. Pending contracts so far this year easily correspond to higher closed home sales in 2013," Yun said.
This year, total existing-home sales are predicted to rise just over 7% to about 5 million.
Yun added, "Because of inventory shortages, higher home sales will push up home values to the highest level in five years."
The national median existing-home price should rise to nearly 8% and exceed $190,000 in 2013.
Strong gains in the Northeast and Midwest were largely offset by declines in the West and South. Pending sales in the Northeast increased 11.5% to an index score of 92.3 in April, 17.7% above year-ago levels. Midwest pending sales rose 3.2% to 107.1 in April, up 15.1% from a year earlier.
Conversely, in the South, pending home sales fell 1.1% to an index score of 119.2, but remain 12.3% higher year-over-year.
Finally, with strong inventory constraints, pending sales in the West dropped 7.6% in April to an index score of 94.6, which is 2.6% higher than year ago levels.