Pending home sales rose in July to their highest level in nearly a year, according to a new report.
The National Assn. of Realtors said Thursday that its pending sales index climbed 3.3% last month after slipping 1.25% in June. The index, which tracks contracts signed for previously owned homes, hasn't been higher since August 2013.
The increase from June, which beat expectations of a 0.5% rise, provides another indication that the housing market is strengthening after starting to cool last summer.
Although sales remain below year-ago levels, an improving labor market and low mortgage rates are boosting demand, said Lawrence Yun, the trade group's chief economist.
"Steady job additions to the economy are helping family finances and giving them added confidence to enter the market," he said.
And there are more homes for sale — a fact that has tamed the rapid price increases seen last year. In July there were 2.37 million previously owned homes for sale — the most since August 2012, the Realtors said.
Pending sales rose in July in all regions except the Midwest, where they fell 0.4%. In the West, contract signings rose 4%.