The number of U.S. households that signed contracts to buy homes rose slightly in September following a decline in August, a leading U.S. industry group reported on Thursday.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said its index of pending home sales, which measures the number of contracts to buy previously-owned homes that have been signed but not yet closed, increased 0.3 percent to 99.5 in September, and marked the 17th consecutive month of year-on-year gain.
Pending home sales continued to hold a higher ground, said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, adding that "home contract activity remains at an elevated level in contrast with recent years, but currently appears to be bouncing around in a narrow range."
The NAR index is a leading indicator of future existing home sales, since there is usually one or two months' lag between signing a contract and closing a deal.
A reading of 100 indicates an average level of sales activity in 2001, when the index started. The reading was above the 100 threshold from March 2003 to April 2007, and then sank as the country fell into a deep recession caused by the housing debacle.
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