The latest seasonally adjusted figures from the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in April was at its highest level for nine years.

The NAR says that this is evidence that steady job growth is strengthening the nation’s real estate market. US employers have hired 3.1million new workers over the past 12 months.

The April Index climbed 3.4% over the month, its fourth consecutive monthly gain, taking it to its highest level since May 2006. Signed contracts are a barometer of future purchases and there is usually a one- to two-month lag between a contract being signed and a completed sale.

“The confidence has returned to housing, not only as shelter but as a good long-term investment,” said Ron Peltier, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway’s real estate affiliate, HomeServices of America.

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