The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index is a measure of how many contracts to buy homes were signed during the month. Since the index gauges signings, not closings, it’s a good indicator of upcoming sales of previously owned homes. In July, the index inched up 0.5 percent from the previous month. The index has now risen over year-before levels for 11 consecutive months and is 7.4 percent above last year. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says the housing market began the second half of the year on a positive note. “Led by a solid gain in the Northeast, contract activity in most of the country held steady last month, which bodes well for existing-sales to maintain their recent elevated pace to close out the summer,” Yun said. “While demand and sales continue to be stronger than earlier this year, Realtors have reported since the spring that available listings in affordable price ranges remain elusive for some buyers trying to reach the market and are likely holding back sales from being more robust.” Regionally, pending sales were up 4 percent in the Northeast, 0.6 percent in the South, and flat in the Midwest. The West saw a slight decline from last month. More here.