The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in November rose to the highest level in a year and a half. The best reading on pending homes sales since a federal home-buying tax credit expired appeared to encourage traders on Wall Street.
The Realtors group said Thursday that its index of sales agreements jumped 7.3 percent last month to a reading of 100.1. A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index was that high was in April 2010, one month before the tax credit expired.
Contract signings usually indicate where the housing market is headed. There's a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed deal.
Homes are the most affordable they've been in decades. Long-term mortgage rates are at historic lows and prices in most metro areas have tumbled since late 2006.