Americans signed more contracts in July to buy previously-owned homes than in any month in almost a year, suggesting the housing market was pulling out of its slump more quickly than expected.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 3.3 percent to 105.9, the highest level since August 2013.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.5 percent last month.

The index plunged last summer after mortgage interest rates spiked, but it has been mostly rising since March of this year.

Contracts signed last month rose in the Northeast, the South and the West of the country, but fell in the Midwest.