The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index – a forward-looking indicator of future home sales based on the number of contracts to buy homes signed each month – rose 6.1 percent in May. It was the largest month-over-month improvement since April 2010 and included gains across all four regions of the country. The Northeast and West showed the biggest increases, though the Midwest and South also experienced significant improvement from the month before. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said favorable mortgage rates, more inventory, and improved job creation should boost home sales in the second half of the year, though the activity likely won’t be enough to compensate for the first quarter’s sluggish sales numbers. Yun also cautioned that, though sales have surged in the higher price brackets, sales of homes under $250,000 have lagged behind. In fact, first-time buyers – who are the largest market for affordable homes – accounted for only 27 percent of existing-home sales in May. Also in the report, the National Association of Realtors expects prices for previously owned homes to rise between 5 and 6 percent this year and between 4 and 5 percent in 2015. More here.