Pending home sales soared 4.5% to an index reading of 105.9 in January, after a revised 1.9% decrease to 101.3 in December, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors.
Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted that the index would be up 1.6%.
December's rise was initially reported as a 4.3% drop to 101.7.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001.
Year-over-year the pending homes sales index is up 9.5% from last January, when the index was 96.7.
Regionally, pending sales were higher. The Northeast saw an 8.2% decrease to 84.8, while sales rose 4.5% in the Midwest to 105.0. In the South, sales grew 5.9% to 119.3, and sales inched uop 0.1% to 102.1 in the West.
"Favorable affordability conditions and job growth have unleashed a pent-up demand," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. "Most areas are drawing down housing inventory, which has shifted the supply/demand balance to sellers in much of the country. It's also why we're experiencing the strongest price growth in more than seven years."
He added, "Over the near term, rising contract activity means higher home sales, but total sales for the year are expected to rise less than in 2012, while home prices are projected to rise more strongly because of inventory shortages."