Pending home sales rose strongly in October and remain above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, surged 10.4 percent to 93.3 in October from 84.5 in September and is 9.2 percent above October 2010 when it stood at 85.5. The data reflects contracts but not closings. “Home sales have been plodding along at a sub-par level while interest rates are hovering at record lows, and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who normally would have entered the market in recent years,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “We hope this is indicates more buyers are taking advantage of the excellent affordability conditions. Many consumers recognize that homebuyers in the past two years have had one of the lowest default rates in history. Moreover, continued inventory declines are another healthy sign for the housing market.” The PHSI in the Northeast surged 17.7 percent to 71.3 in October and is 3.4 percent above October 2010. In the Midwest the index jumped 24.1 percent to 88.7 in October and remains 13.2 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 8.6 percent in October to an index of 99.5 and are 9.7 percent higher than October 2010. In the West, the index slipped 0.3 percent to 105.5 in October but is 8.1 percent above a year ago.