Pending home sales rose in July to the highest level since April 2010 when the homebuyer tax credit was about to close, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The association’s pending home sales index rose 2.4% to 101.7 in July from 99.3 in June and stands 12.4% above July 2011 when it was 90.5. The data reflect contracts but not closings.

“While the month-to-month movement has been uneven, more importantly we now have 15 consecutive months of year-over-year gains in contract activity,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

All regions except the West saw monthly increases in activity. The West region is experiencing an acute inventory shortage, NAR said.

The index in the Northeast increased 0.5% to 77 in July and is 13.4% higher than a year earlier. In the Midwest, the index grew 3.4% to 97.4 in July, 20.2% above July 2011.

Pending home sales in the South rose 5.2% to an index of 111.7 in July and are 15.6% above a year ago. In the West the index slipped 1.7% in July to 109.9 but is 1.3% higher than July 2011.

NAR projects existing home sales will rise 8% to 9% in 2012, followed by another 7% to 8% in 2013. Home prices are expected to increase 10% cumulatively over the next two years.