NEW YORK ( – March pending home sales increased from February numbers and from March 2008, indicating that buyers think now is a good time to buy a house.

The Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed a 3.2 percent gain to 84.6 from February, when it was 82. The index stands 1.6 percent higher than a year ago.

The index is understood to be a forward indicator of home sales trends as it measures contracts signed, not completed sales. The uptick may indicate that home prices have fallen low enough for buyers to get off the fence.

“If inventory goes down — it’s at just under ten months now — to below eight months, that would mean we’re on the way to a sustainable recovery,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that trend may be happening. Realtors and other industry insiders are seeing rising open house attendance and multiple bids on some particularly desirable properties.

Today, buyers are more likely to bid because they perceive the market as at or near its bottom. An April Gallup Poll reported that 71 percent of Americans thought it was a good time to buy a house.

The South saw the largest gain of any region, with pending home sales jumping 8.5 percent from February to March. Pending sales were 7.7 percent higher in March compared with the same month a year ago.