WASHINGTON - Contracts to buy previously owned homes unexpectedly rose in June after two straight monthly declines, but the housing market remains hobbled by a dearth of properties available for sale.
The National Association of Realtors said on Monday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 0.9 percent to a reading of 106.9. Economists had forecast pending home sales unchanged in June.
Pending home contracts become sales after a month or two, and last month's surprise rise suggested a rebound in existing home sales, which have declined for three straight months.
"Even with slightly more homeowners putting their home on the market, inventory is still subpar and not meeting demand," said Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist.
Pending home sales fell 2.5 percent from a year ago. In June, contracts increased 1.1 percent in the populous South. They gained 0.7 in the West and jumped 1.4 percent in the Northeast. Contracts rose 0.5 percent in the Midwest.