Contract activity has increased on an annual basis for seventeen straight months, but is fluctuating month to month and region to region. The Realtors' index of so-called pending home sales rose 1.4 percent month-to-month in the Northeast, fell 5.8 percent in the Midwest, rose 1 percent in the South and rose 4.3 percent in the West. The western region, which includes some of the hardest hit states of the housing crash, was the only region to see nearly flat gains from a year ago. That is do to low supplies of distressed properties.
(Read More: Is There a Housing Shortage?)
Investors have focused their attention and cash on formerly hard hit cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and several California cities.
The National Association of Realtors estimates that completed existing home sales in 2012 will total close to 4.6 million, an increase of 9 percent from 2011. Lower housing inventories, they also predict, should push existing home prices up 6 percent this year nationally.
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