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NAR: Tax credit boosts pending real estate sales

Association forecasts new-home sales will jump 18.5% this year

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The number of homebuyers signing purchase contracts rose for the third straight month in April, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors. The association's Pending Home Sales Index jumped to 110.9, a 6 percent month-to-month increase over March's upwardly revised index of 104.6, the report said. Year-over-year, April's index was up 22.4 percent. An index of 100 indicates the average contract activity in the index's base year, 2001, which was a record year for existing-home sales, the report said.     See related article:NAR: Tax-credit expiration to steal wind from real estate sales     The association attributed the surge in sales to the federal homebuyer tax credits for first-time and repeat buyers. In order to qualify for one of the credits, homebuyers had to have signed a purchase contract by April 30. Contract activity in April was as strong as it was in October, before the tax credit's original deadline,...