The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index is a measure of how many contracts to buy homes were signed during the month. Because it gauges the number of signed contracts, rather than closings, the index is a good indicator of future sales of previously owned homes. In February, the NAR’s index showed a 3.1 percent gain from the month before. The index is now at its highest level since June 2013 and has shown an above-average level of activity for 10 consecutive months. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says the improvement is a sign of strengthening demand. Pending sales showed solid gains driven by a steadily-improving labor market, historically low mortgage rates, and the likelihood of more renters looking to hedge against increasing rents, Yun said. Combined, these factors should lead to increasing sales numbers in the months ahead. In February, sales declines in the Northeast and South were offset by substantial gains in the Midwest and West. In fact, the West jumped 6.6 percent from the month before, while the Midwest registered an 11.6 percent increase from January. The NAR expects total existing-home sales to rise 6.4 percent this year compared to last. More here.