WASHINGTON, July 31 (Reuters) - Contracts to buy previously owned homes rebounded in June after three straight monthly declines, but the housing market remains constrained by a shortage of properties available for sale.
The National Association of Realtors said on Monday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, jumped 1.5 percent to a reading of 110.2. Economists had forecast pending home sales rising 0.7 percent last month.
Pending home contracts become sales after a month or two, and last month's surge implied a pickup in existing home sales after they dropped 1.8 percent in June. The housing market has been stymied by a dearth of properties, which has pushed up prices and sidelined first-time homebuyers.
"Market conditions in many areas continue to be fast-paced, with few properties to choose from, which is forcing buyers to act almost immediately on an available home that fits their criteria," said Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist.
Pending home sales increased 0.5 percent from a year ago. In June, contracts rose 0.7 percent in the Northeast and advanced 2.1 percent in the South. They shot up 2.9 percent in the West but fell 0.5 percent Midwest. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)