Contracts to buy previously owned homes edged higher in November, boosted by job growth across a strengthening economy.
The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday its pending home sales index rose to a reading of 109.5, up 0.2 percent from October.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales falling 0.4 percent last month.
Pending home contracts are seen as a forward-looking indicator of the health of the housing market because they become sales one to two months later.
The housing sector has regained some momentum recently after treading water for much of the year because of a lack of inventory which has driven up prices, and both labor and land shortages.
The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in more than two years in the third quarter, powered by robust business spending, while the jobless rate in November held at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.
Pending sales rose 0.8 percent in November from the same month of 2016, the first 12-month gain since June. Contracts rose 2.5 percent in the South from a year earlier. Sales also increased in the Northeast and Midwest while they fell 2.3 percent in the West.