Pending home sales increased again in March, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), affirming that a surge of home sales in the United States is unfolding for spring.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), is a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in March. It rose 5.3% to 102.9 from 97.7 in February, and is 21.1% above March 2009; this follows an 8.3% increase in February.  The data reflects contracts and not closings, which usually occur with a lag time of one or two months.

However will the sales pickup hold? "Clearly the home buyer tax credit has helped stabilize the market," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.   In the months immediately following the expiration of the tax credit, we expect measurably lower sales," he said.

Of the major regions, recovery is strongest in the South, weakest in the West.

Read about it in the Real Estate Channel.