The National Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking indicator that measures the number of contracts to purchase homes that are signed during the month. In April, pending home sales rose for the second straight month, climbing 0.4 percent from the previous month's total. Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said higher inventory levels are giving buyers more choices. That, along with a slight decline in mortgage rates this spring, has boosted buyer confidence and should help raise the number of closed sales in coming months, according to Yun. Regionally, the Midwest saw a 5 percent increase in contract signings, while the Northeast climbed 0.6 percent. The South and West both saw slight declines. Despite the month-over-month increase, however, contract signings are still 9.2 percent below last year's level. The NAR expects annual existing-home sales to finish the year slightly below the 5.1 million homes sold in 2013. More here.