Trying to gauge the health of the real estate market can be confusing to the average home buyer or seller. After all, there’s a seemingly endless supply of data, reports, and surveys and all of them measure a different aspect of the housing industry – whether it’s home sales, housing starts, or prices. However, when the vast majority show improvement, it’s likely that things are headed in the right direction. The latest positive indicator is the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index. The index – which measures the number of contracts to buy homes signed during the month – rose for the fifth straight month and reached its highest level in nine years. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says May’s results increase the likelihood that home sales are off to their best year since the downturn. “The steady pace of solid job creation seen now for over a year has given the housing market a boost this spring,” Yun said. “It’s very encouraging to now see a broad based recovery with all four major regions showing solid gains from a year ago and new home sales also coming alive.” More here.