Pending home sales rose in May to the highest level since late 2006, possibly driven by buyer fears that mortgage rates will rise further.
The Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors, based on contract signings, increased 6.7 percent to 112.3 in May from a downwardly revised 105.2 in April, and is 12.1 percent above May 2012 when it was 100.2; the data reflect contracts but not closings.
Contract activity is at the strongest pace since December 2006 when it reached 112.8; pending sales have been above year-ago levels for the past 25 months.
Existing-home sales are projected to increase 8.5 to 9.0 percent, reaching about 5.07 million in 2013, the highest in seven years; it would be slightly above the 5.03 million total recorded in 2007.
The PHSI in the Northeast was unchanged at 92.3 in May but is 14.3 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 10.2 percent to 115.5 in May and is 22.2 percent higher than May 2012. Pending home sales in the South rose 2.8 percent to an index of 121.8 in May and are 12.3 percent above a year ago. The index in the West jumped 16.0 percent in May to 109.7, but with limited inventory is only 1.1 percent above May 2012.