By Jeffry Bartash
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Pending home sales rose 7.3% in November to the highest level in 19 months, according to an industry trade group. The National Association of Realtors said its pending sales index rose to 100.1 in November from a revised 93.3 in October, and it’s now 5.9% above its year-ago level. “Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who’ve been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Some of the increase in pending home sales appears to be from buyers recommitting after an initial contract ran into problems, often with the mortgage.” By region, pending home sales rose 14.9% in the West, 8.1% in the Northeast, 4.3% in the South and 3.3% in the Midwest. An index reading of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. Not all contracts lead to closings.