The Pending Home Sales Index, which the National Association of Realtors has touted as a new leading indicator for the housing market, stood at 122.8 in March, 0.3% below its February level but 1.7% above that of a year earlier.The index is based on pending sales of existing homes, including single-family, condominium, and cooperative. (A sale is deemed pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, a period that typically lasts one or two months, the NAR said.) "Considering we've set records for home sales in each of the last four years, the level of contract activity is exceptionally strong," said David Lereah, the NAR's chief economist. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity in 2001, the first year for which the NAR has analyzed data. The association can be found online at http://realtor.org.

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