The number of buyers who signed contracts to purchase homes surged more than expected in March, another sign that government incentives are propelling the housing market this spring.
The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose 5.3 percent from a month earlier to a reading of 102.9.
It was the highest level since October and a 21 percent increase from the same month a year earlier. February's reading was revised upward slightly to 97.7. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected the index would rise 4 percent to 101.5.
The index provides an early measurement of sales activity because there is usually a one- to two- month lag between a sales contract and a deal.
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