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Washington (AFP) — U.S. pending home sales rebounded last month to their highest levels in nearly a year, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday, in report providing further evidence of a steadying housing market.

The NAR’s pending home sales index surged 3.3 percent in July to 105.9, its highest level since August 2013.

The increase in the forward-looking indicator, which is based on contract signings, came in much stronger than expected. The average estimate was for a modest 0.5 percent rise.

Pending home sales have climbed in four of the past five months. The June decline in pending home sales was steeper than first thought, with the drop revised to 1.3 percent from 1.1 percent.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that favorable housing conditions spurred increased contract activity last month.

“Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 2012,” he said.

“More importantly, steady job additions to the economy are helping family finances and giving them added confidence to enter the market.”

Compared with a year ago, July pending home sales were down 2.1 percent.

Yun projected sales of existing homes, the largest part of the housing market, to be down 2.1 percent this year to 4.98 million, compared with 5.09 million sales in 2013.

AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan

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