Pending California real estate sales bode well for spring

New CAR index tracks homes under contract

Pending home sales were up 13.6 percent in California from December to January, with distressed properties accounting for more than half of pending transactions, according to a new index compiled by the California Association of Realtors.

CAR’s pending home sales index surveys more than 70 Realtor associations and multiple listing services, and uses 2008 sales levels as a benchmark. An index reading of 100 is equal to the average level of sales contract activity in 2008.

The index climbed to 93.6 in January, up from 82.4 in December but down 2 percent from a year ago, CAR said, noting that pending sales typically rise after seasonal slowdowns in November and December.

"January’s pending sales should be reflected in higher existing sales activity in February and March and serve as a precursor to the spring home buying season," CAR President Beth Peerce said in a statement.