Pending home sales, a leading indicator in the housing market, held steady in September.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that the national Pending Homes Sales Index, which is based on contract signings rather than actual sales, rose slightly to 99.5 last month from 99.2 in August, a slight increase of 0.3 percent. It was up 14.5 percent from September 2011 when it was 86.9 percent.

In July, the index rose to its highest level in more than two years, 101.9. “Home contract activity remains at an elevated level in contrast with recent years, but currently appears to be bouncing around in a narrow range,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.  “This means only minor movement is likely in near-term existing-home sales, but with positive underlying market fundamentals they should continue on an uptrend in 2013.”

Year-over-year pending home sales have risen nationally for 17 months in a row.

In the Washington area, pending home sales were down in September. According to data from RBIntel, the number of pending home sales in the D.C. metro region have been declining since June. There were 8,994 pending home sales in September, down from 9,155 in August.