11/29/2017 05:00 EST | Updated 11/29/2017 05:20 EST

US pending home sales surged 3.5 per cent in October

WASHINGTON — More people signed contracts in October to buy homes, ending three straight months of declines.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of pending home sales jumped 3.5 per cent to 109.3 in October.

Despite the increase, the index remains slightly below its level of 12 months ago. A shortage of properties for sale has contributed to rising prices, likely causing some would-be buyers to retreat from the housing market for now. On an annual basis, pending sales have fallen in six of the past seven months.

During October, the number of signed contracts rose in the Northeast, Midwest and South but declined in the West.

Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. Sales are typically completed a month or two after a contract is signed.

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