The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index measures the number of contract to buy homes that were signed each month. Because it tracks contract signings rather than closings, the index is a good indicator of future home sales. According to the most recent release, the index rose for the third consecutive month in March and is now at its highest level since June 2013. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said the 1.1 percent improvement over last month was due to the fact that more home buyers than usual have entered the market so far this spring. “Demand appears to be stronger in several parts of the country, especially in metro areas that have seen solid job gains and firmer economic growth over the past year,” Yun said. “While contract activity being up convincingly compared to a year ago is certainly good news, the increased number of traditional buyers who appear to be replacing investors paying in cash is even better news.” In the early days of the housing recovery, real estate investors drove the market. Now that home prices have largely recovered, the housing market is being driven by more traditional buyers, which is a good indication that there is more stability in the overall market than in recent years. Regionally, pending sales were down in the Northeast and Midwest, while both the South and West saw increases. The index is now 11.1 percent above last year’s level. More here.