The National Association of Realtors' leading indicator of future home sales jumped 5.1% in March -- signaling a possible uptick in sales for April and May.

NAR reported Thursday that its pending sales index hit 94.1 in March -- the highest reading since last November.

The PSI covers signings of sales contracts, not closings.  So there is some fallout before final sales due to cancellations or loan rejections.

"This index means modest near-term gains in existing home sales are likely, which would be even stronger if tight mortgage lending criteria returned to normal, safe standards," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said.

NAR economists also released their latest economic projections for 2011 and 2012.

They are forecasting existing single-family home sales (including condos and coops) will jump 7.7% from 2010 to 5.28 million this year.

They also see the rate on the 30-year fixed rate mortgage hitting 5.6% by the end of this year and 6% in 2012.

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