The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index measures how many contracts to buy homes were signed each month. Because the index measures sales that have yet to close, it is a good indication of future existing home sales. In November, the index rose 0.8 percent and was above year-before levels for the third consecutive month. It is now 4.1 percent above November 2013, which is the highest year-over-year gain in 15 months. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said pending sales have been fairly stable but have yet to break out. According to Yun, consistent economic growth and steady hiring during the second half of 2014 has given prospective buyers enough assurance to consider buying a home. Yun also noted that moderating price increases, historically low mortgage rates, and rent rising at a seven-year high have also contributed to a favorable environment for buyers. Regionally, pending sales rose 1.4 in the Northeast, 1.3 percent in the South, and 0.4 percent in the West. The Midwest was the only region that didn’t see gains in November, falling 0.4 percent from the month before. More here.