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(MCT)–Signed contracts to buy previously owned homes rose in September, but not by much, according to a trade group report.

Pending sales inched up 0.3 percent to 99.5 from 99.2 in August, according to an index of pending sales from the National Association of Realtors. Contracts had hit a two-year high of 101.9 in July before slipping 2.6 percent the next month.

At 100 on the index, pending sales are considered healthy. The gauge measures signed agreements but not closed deals, which usually come a month or two later.

The index gained in every region except the Midwest, where it fell 5.8 percent on a month-to-month scale. But compared to last September, nearly every region saw double-digit swells except the West. There, squeezed inventory tamped down year-over-year contract expansion to a measly 0.8 percent.

Nationwide, the index is up 14.5 percent in the past 12 months.

“This means only minor movement is likely in near-term existing-home sales,” says Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, in a statement. But a continuing upward trend would be evidence of “positive underlying market fundamentals,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department said that new home sales jumped 5.7 percent last month to the highest rate in more than two years.

©2012 Los Angeles Times
Distributed by MCT Information Services