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May 29, 2014 8:40 AM, EDT
Pending Sales of Existing Homes Increased 0.4% in April
Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg News

Contracts to purchase previously owned homes rose in April for the second straight month, a sign the residential real estate market is stabilizing after a weak start to the year.

The pending home sales index climbed 0.4% after a 3.4% increase in March, the first gain in nine months, the National Association of Realtors said.

The median projection in a Bloomberg News survey of economists called for the April index to rise 1%.

“The housing market is getting better,” said Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight. “Going forward, we don’t think it’s going to be a drag; it’s going to be a positive for growth.”

Purchases fell 9.4% from the year prior after a 7.5% decrease in the 12 months that ended in March, the association reported.

The pending sales index was a seasonally adjusted 97.8. A reading of 100 corresponds to the average level of contract activity in 2001, or “historically healthy” home-buying traffic, according to the NAR.

Pending home sales rose 5% in the Midwest and 0.6% in the Northeast. Contract signings declined 2.9% in the West and 0.6% in the South.