Contracts to purchase previously owned homes rose in November as employment gains and low borrowing costs helped bring potential buyers into the market.

The pending home sales index advanced 0.8 percent after a revised 1.2 percent decrease in October, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for the index to rise 0.5 percent, with estimates ranging from a decline of 1.5 percent to an advance of 3.5 percent.

Purchase contracts climbed 1.7 percent in the 12 months ending in November after a 2.1 percent annual increase in October on an unadjusted basis, the NAR report showed. The three months of year-over-year advances follow a series of 11 straight declines.

The pending sales index was 104.8 on a seasonally adjusted basis. A reading of 100 corresponds to the average level of contract activity in 2001, or œhistorically healthy home-buying traffic, according to the NAR.

Pending sales increased in three of four regions from the previous month, led by a 1.4 percent gain in the Northeast. Contract signings climbed 1.3 percent in the South and 0.4 percent in the West. They fell 0.4 percent in the Midwest.

Source : Bloomberg