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Pending Home Sales Pickup After Rough Winter

Following months of stagnancy, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) measure of pending home sales rose in March, the group reported.

According to the latest release, NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) rose to 97.4 last month, up 3.4 percent from February’s upwardly revised 94.2. It was the first real pickup in the last nine months, the association said.

NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said the increase was expected with the end of last season’s severe weather.

“After a dismal winter, more buyers got an opportunity to look at homes last month and are beginning to make contract offers,” Yun said. “Sales activity is expected to steadily pick up as more inventory reaches the market, and from ongoing job creation in the economy.”

Yun’s optimism matches forecasts from other industry analysts, who continue to project a rebound in spring and summer despite a poor early showing for home sales.

Compared to last year’s more active season, pending home sales remain down 7.9 percent; it remains to be seen whether the latest report—which is based on contract signings, not closings—will translate to a substantial increase in final sales figures over the remainder of spring. For the entire year, NAR forecasts existing-home sales numbers of 4.9 million, below the nearly 5.1 million recorded last year.

At the regional level, pending sales were up in the Northeast, the South, and the West, rising 1.4 percent, 5.6 percent, and 5.7 percent, respectively. The Midwest’s PHSI slipped 0.8 percent, meanwhile.


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