US pending home sales inched up in November after declining for five consecutive months, a fresh sign that the housing market is getting back on solid footing, a leading U.S. industry group reported Monday.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said its index of pending home sales, which measures the number of contracts that have been signed but not yet closed for purchasing previously owned homes, rose 0.2 percent to 101.7 in November, which was still below the level a year ago when it stood at 103.3.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market is flattening. "We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014."
"Although the final months of 2013 are finishing on a soft note, the year as a whole will end with the best sales total in seven years," Yun noted.
The NAR index is a forward-looking indicator of future existing home sales, since there is usually one or two months' lag between signing a contract and closing a deal. A reading of 100 indicates an average level of sales activity.
Total existing-home sales this year are expected to reach 5.1 million, a gain of almost 10 percent over 2012, but should stay at that level next year, and then rise to 5.3 million the year after that, the NAR predicted.