The number of homes that went under contract rose in March, marking the first gain in nine months, the National Association of Realtors reported today. Pending home sales -- a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings -- climbed 3.4 percent from February to March, but were down 7.9 percent from the same time a year ago, according to NAR. "After a dismal winter, more buyers got an opportunity to look at homes last month and are beginning to make contract offers,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Sales activity is expected to steadily pick up as more inventory reaches the market, and from ongoing job creation in the economy.” Pending home sales in the Northeast increased 1.4 percent in March, slipped 0.8 percent in the Midwest, rose 5.6 percent in the South a...