Pending single-family home sales rose in May, Mass. Association of Realtors says

Bay State single-family homes put under agreement in May went up again for the 13th straight month on a year-to-year comparison basis, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

In May, 5,267 single-family homes were put under agreement, up 32 percent from the number in May 2011.

“May was the first month that more than 5,000 homes were put under agreement since we started tracking pending sales data in January 2009,’’ association president Trisha McCarthy said in a statement.

The number of Massachusetts condos put under agreement in May was up 35.5 percent on a year-to-year basis.

The association refers to this metric as pending sales. The association’s pending sales analysis counts homes that have been put under agreement but are not yet completed sales. Often six weeks can elapse between the time a home is put under agreement and the time that the sale closes. In general, economists look at closed home sales when they seek to evaluate the condition of the market, but those data points can be several weeks old. According to the association, pending sales can sometimes give more of a real-time indication of where the housing market might be heading.

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Referring to May pending sales, McCarthy said: “This is excellent news for the market going forward as closed sales should also continue to go up. Buyer confidence will remain the determining factor in how the market performs in the second half of the year.’’

Also Tuesday morning, the Warren Group issued a report that focused on local mortgage activity. That activity is on the rise because of low mortgage rates, higher home sales, and an increase in refinancings, said the group, a Boston firm that tracks the real estate market.

Total mortgage activity in Massachusetts rose about 28 percent statewide in the first four months of this year when compared to the same period a year ago, the Warren Group said.

“The housing market has rebounded recently with single-family home sales volume increasing in nine of the last 10 months,’’ Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said in a statement. “More home sales translate to more purchase mortgages. But the real story is the increased volume of refinance mortgages. Low interest rates and a revamped federal program called Home Affordable Refinance Program are making lower monthly payments possible for many more homeowners.’’

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