Pending home sales rose 6.4% from July based on contracts signed in August, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The index of pending home sales is now 12.4% above the year-ago level. Pending sales surged 16% from July in the West. They jumped 8.2% in the Northeast, 3.1% in the Midwest and 0.8% in the South. “There is likely to be some double counting over a span of several months because some buyers whose contracts were cancelled have found another home and signed a new contract to buy,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Perhaps the real question is how many transactions are being delayed in the pipeline, and how many are being cancelled? Without historic precedents, it’s challenging to assess.” NAR is urging Congress to extend the first-time homebuyer tax credit past its current expiration date in November. This will help demand work through unsold inventory, NAR said. “We know there is a pent-up demand because sales are below normal levels for the size of our population," said NAR president Charles McMillan. "The faster we absorb excess inventory, the sooner we’ll turn the corner on home prices, prevent additional families from becoming upside-down in their mortgages, and give Wall Street the confidence to extend credit to other sectors." Other realtors are calling for an extension of the tax credit, as well as an expansion to cover existing homeowners that currently do not qualify for the credit. Write to Diana Golobay.