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Pending home sales rise -- barely -- in September

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Signed contracts to buy previously owned homes rose in September, but not by much, according to a trade group report.

Pending sales inched up 0.3% to 99.5 from 99.2 in August, according to an index of pending sales from the National Assn. of Realtors. Contracts had hit a two-year high of 101.9 in July before slipping 2.6% the next month.

At 100 on the index, pending sales are considered healthy. The gauge measures signed agreements but not closed deals, which usually come a month or two later.

The index gained in every region except the Midwest, where it fell 5.8% on a month-to-month scale. In the West, pending sales increased 4.3% to 106.9.

But compared to last September, nearly every region saw double-digit swells except the West. There, squeezed inventory tamped down year-over-year contract expansion to a measly 0.8%.

Nationwide, the index is up 14.5% in the past 12 months.

“This means only minor movement is likely in near-term existing-home sales,” said Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, in a statement. But a continuing upward trend would be evidence of “positive underlying market fundamentals,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department said that new home sales jumped 5.7% last month to the highest rate in more than two years.

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