U.S. pending home sales rose 5.9 percent in May, matching a two-year high, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

The pending home sale index, based on contract signings, was 13.3 percent above May 2011 and beat a Reuters forecast of a 1 percent month-to-month increase. It equaled levels reached in March 2012 and April 2010, when a federal tax credit for first-time buyers was fueling demand.

The housing market is clearly superior this year compared with the past four years, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said in a statement. “Actual closings for existing-home sales have been notably higher since the beginning of the year, and we’re on track to see a 9 to 10 percent improvement in total sales for 2012.”