NEW YORK - Pending home sales climbed 4.1% to an index reading of 101.4 in March after a revised 0.4% increase to 97.4 in February, according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

The February reading was initially reported as a 0.5% decreased to 96.5.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 1.0% increase for the index.

Year-over-year the pending homes sales index is up 12.8% from last March, when the index was 89.9.

Regionally, pending sales were mixed. The Northeast saw a 0.8% decrease to 78.2, while sales fell 0.9% in the Midwest to 93.3. In the South, sales rose 5.9% to 114.1, and sales jumped 8.7% to 108.0 in the West.

“First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years. The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “The housing market has clearly turned the corner. Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses.”

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