Springtime for Home Sales

Fierce snows and blasting February winds didn't stop homebuyers from signing contracts to buy homes.

The pending homes sales index rose to a seasonally-adjusted 97.6 in February. That's up from 90.2 in January, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The increase surprised experts who predicted home shoppers would stay home this February -- after all, the snow storms across much of the East Coast and Midwest were fingered for a drop in transactions in February. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had predicted the index would fall slightly to 90.3.

The February report most likely marks the beginning of a mini-housing boom, at least compared to the doldrums of the past few months, as the warmer weather and expiration of the federal new home tax credit lure shoppers out into the market again.