Though contract movement in the real estate market has been moderate in the first few months of the year, pending home sales increased both month-to-month and year-to-year in March 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Pending Sales Index.

The forward looking index measures contract signings, which rose 1.5 percent to 105.7 in between February and March 2013. The index was also up 7.0 percent above March 2012 when it was 98.8. The latest index represents 23 consecutive months of gains and came in above analysts predictions. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had forecast the index would rise 1 percent month-to-month. 

"Contract activity has been in a narrow range in recent months, not from a pause in demand but because of limited supply. Little movement is expected in near-term sales closings, but they should edge up modestly as the year progresses," said NAR chief economist Laurence Yun. "Job additions and rising household wealth will continue to support housing demand."

Sales activity has been somewhat constrained by limited inventory, particularly in markets in the West and Southwest. All regions surveyed by the NAR showed increases in pending sales activity, except the Northeast where pending home sales remained flat. 

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