Pending home sales rose in May, a hopeful sign for the beleaguered US housing market, according to a monthly report released on Wednesday.
The Pending Home Sales Index rose 8.2 percent from April to May, and was up 13.4 percent from its level in May 2010, said the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trade association.
The index tracks contracts for home sales that have been signed but still need one or two months before the deals close. All regions of the United States experienced gains from a year ago, NAR said.
The month-to-month gain beat the expectations of analysts, who had forecast a slight drop of 0.6 percent.
"This solid gain in contract signings implies that home values in many localities are or will soon be stabilizing as inventories get absorbed at a faster pace," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.
Home sales typically rise in May as spring weather spurs home-seekers to go shopping. Nonetheless, the uptick in pending home sales marks another bright spot for the deeply depressed US housing market.
On Tuesday, the closely-watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed US housing prices rose for the first time in nine months in April, though they were still 4.0 percent lower than in April 2010.
The housing market is a pillar of the US economy and its collapse was a key factor in the global financial crisis of 2008.
Many analysts say US home prices need to pick up in order for the world's largest economy to fully emerge from its post-crisis doldrums.