The National Association of Realtors (NAR) today said its Pending Home Sales Index rose in December.
On a monthly basis, the index was up by 2% to 93.7 from 91.9 in November. The reading also beat expectations of a 1% rise.
It also represented the fifth gain in six months, said the NAR.
The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, comments: “Modest gains in the labor market and the improving economy are creating a more favourable backdrop for buyers, allowing them to take advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions.
“Mortgage rates should rise only modestly in the months ahead, so we’ll continue to see a favourable environment for buyers with good credit,” he added.
The figures come just a day after the Commerce Department revealed a rise in sales of new homes in the US for the month of December.
According to the Commerce Department, new single-family home sales rose to a better than expected annual rate of 329,000 units, from a revised 280,000 in November.
However, for the full 2010 year, sales plummeted 14.2% to 321,000 – the lowest ever level since records began in January 1963.
In related news, economic growth figures for the US will be published tomorrow. Analysts expect the economy to expand by an annual 3.5% in the final quarter of 2010.