Pending Home Sales Rise in March

Washington, DC, May 4, 2009--The housing market improved in March, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

The pending home sales index rose 3.2% compared with February and was up 1.1% compared with a year earlier, NAR reported. The pending home sales index is based on sales contracts signed on existing homes.

"This increase could be the leading edge of first-time buyers responding to very favorable affordability conditions and an $8,000 tax credit," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the real estate group.

Sales typically close within six weeks of a signing. At that point, they are included in the existing-home sales report.