Warmer weather brought homebuyers into the market and pushed pending home sales up 3.4% in March, data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® shows. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said a gain was inevitable.

 
“After a dismal winter, more buyers got an opportunity to look at homes last month and are beginning to make contract offers,” he said. “Sales activity is expected to steadily pick up as more inventory reaches the market, and from ongoing job creation in the economy.”
 
The March gain was the first uptick in pending home sales in the past nine months.
 
 
Regional pending home sales were mixed:
 
Region         March 2014         Compared with March 2013
Northeast     Up 1.4%              Down 5.9%
Midwest      Down 0.8%          Down 10.1%
South           Up 5.6%               Down 5.3%
East              Up 5.7%              Down 11.1%
Although home sales are expected to trend up over the course of the year and into 2015, this year began on a weak note and total sales are unlikely to match the 2013 level.
 
Existing-home sales are expected to total more than 4.9 million this year, slightly below the nearly 5.1 million in 2013. However, with ongoing inventory shortages in much of the U.S., the national median existing-home price is expected to grow 6%-7% in 2014.
 

 
 
DONA DEZUBE
has been writing about real estate for more than two decades. She lives in a suburban Baltimore Midcentury modest home on a 3-acre lot shared with possums, raccoons, foxes, a herd of deer, and her blue-tick hound.