NEW YORK - Pending home sales increased unexpectedly in April to the highest reading since October but remain more than 13 percent below a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday.
The association's seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes rose to 88.2 from a March reading of 83.0, the lowest since the index was started in 2001.
The index stood at 101.5 in April, 2007.
A reading of 100 is equal to the average level of sales activity in 2001.
The April index in the West climbed 8.3 percent from March and is 4 percent higher than it was a year ago. In the Midwest, the index jumped 13 percent, but is still lower than in 2007. The South posted a 4.6 percent gain, and the Northeast index declined 1.9 percent.
The association expects existing-home sales to total 5.4 million this year and increase to 5.7 million in 2009.