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Pending U.S. home sales drop in February, marking 8th straight decline

Pending U.S. home sales drop in February, marking 8th straight decline
Pending home sales slipped in February for the eighth straight month, a trade group said Thursday. Above, homes under construction last year at Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

In the latest sign of a continuing slowdown in the housing market, a key predictor of home-sale volume fell for the eighth straight month in February, though the outlook was brighter in the West.

The National Assn. of Realtors' index of pending home sales dropped 0.8% for the month, the group said Thursday. It is 10.5% below its level from last February. The forward-looking index measures home contracts that are signed but not yet closed.

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NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun characterized the declines in the last three months as relatively small.

"Contract signings for the past three months have been little changed, implying the market appears to be stabilizing," he said in a statement. "Moreover, buyer-traffic information from our monthly Realtor survey shows a modest turnaround, and some weather-delayed transactions should close in the spring."

Although sales so far this year have been well below last spring's brisk clip, Yun continues to predict that 2014 will eclipse 2013 in both sales volume and prices as the economy continues to improve and more everyday buyers move off the sidelines.

Of the four regions of the country, the pending sales index was strongest in the West, with NAR reporting a 2.3% increase from January to February, though the index remains 16.5% below 2013 levels. On Tuesday the California Assn. of Realtors said pending sales in the Golden State were down 12% last month from a year earlier.

Twitter: @bytimlogan

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