Feels like the first time: Realtor group reports pending home sales at 7-year high

According to our friends at the National Association of Realtors, the number of pending home sales jumped up 6.7% in April, the largest monthly gain since 2001. That puts the index 3.2% above its year-ago level, in the latest sign the battered U.S. housing sector is stabilizing. This was also the third consecutive month that pending home sales rose.

Now, some of these sales may fall through between now and when they were set to close, that's why they are called pending sales.

The last time the trade group's pending home sales index had risen for at least three straight months was the period from July through October 2004 -- a housing boom year.
This surge is mostly due to renewed interest by first-time buyers, who made up more than half of all buyers in March.

"Since first-time buyers must finalize their purchase by Nov. 30 to get the [federal tax] credit, we expect greater activity in the months ahead, and that should spark more sales by repeat buyers," said NAR economist Lawrence Yun.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development also announced recently that first-time buyers can get an $8,000 loan on their tax credit to help with closing costs, but only if they use a FHA mortgage.

Brett Widness is an editor with AOL's real estate channel. Find homes for sale, foreclosures, home values, home finance and apartments at AOL Real Estate.
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