Pending home sales in the U.S. unexpectedly climbed higher in February, the latest sign that the housing market may be stabilizing.
The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales, which is based on signed contracts to purchase existing homes, rose 0.8 percent in February. The index now is at its highest level since August of last year.
Economists had forecast a three percent decline.
Pending home sales have now climbed for three consecutive months. The pending home sales data is just the latest indicator that the recession in the housing market may have reached its nadir.
The National Association of Realtors said recently that sales of existing homes surged 14.5 percent in February. These sales are measured when signed deals are closed.
Housing starts rose 9.8 percent in February, and permits jumped 13.8 percent. Homebuilder sentiment was up for the third consecutive month in March.
“After nearly a year, the housing sector’s contraction is coming to an end,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Existing-home sales, pending contracts and new-home construction pending contracts have turned the corner and climbed for the past three months.”