Signed contracts to buy homes is at 3-year high

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes ticked up in April to the highest level in three years.

In Ohio, the state Association of Realtors also reported Thursday the 24th straight month of increased single-family home pending sales, when compared to the previous month.

The increases in pending sales point to growth in home sales in the coming months.

“The Ohio housing market has reached a significant milestone in its on-going recovery effort, as we’ve seen an uptick in home purchases across the state month after month for two straight years,” said Ohio Association of Realtors president Thomas J. Williams of Howland. “It’s becoming evident that buyers are eager to take advantage of the ideal conditions that exist, from historic low interest rates to favorable pricing, in order to make the dream of home ownership a reality.”

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 0.3 percent to 106. That’s the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer tax credit inflated sales.

Ohio’s April pending home sales index of 141.7, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 19.4 percent from the April 2012 index score of 118.6.

Signed contracts have jumped 10.3 percent in the past 12 months. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

Home sales and prices began to recover last year and have been buoyed by steady job gains and low mortgage rates.

Sales of previously occupied homes rose in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million, a 3 1/2 year high. Sales of newly built homes also rose in April, to nearly a five-year high.

Still, the supply of homes on the market remains low and that could keep sales from accelerating later this year. The number of available homes for sale rose in April, the national Realtors group said last week, but still was down 14 percent from a year earlier.