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Pending home sales rise in January, industry group reports

Real estate agents attend an open house in Highland Park in 2012.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Pending home sales rose in January in every U.S. region except the West, according to new data.

The National Assn. of Realtors said that its index of pending sales — based on the number of home purchase contracts signed — rose 4.5% in January from the previous month and 9.5% from January 2012.

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The index, at 105.9, is at it hits highest reading since April 2010, the month a popular tax credit for buyers was driving the market up.

“Favorable affordability conditions and job growth have unleashed a pent-up demand,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the group, said in a news release.

The group expects higher home sales in the short term but sales growth will be muted because there are not enough homes available for sale, Yun said.

An index level of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be studied and also considered historically a healthy year of sales volume.

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Month over month, pending sales were up 8.2% in the Northeast, 4.5% in the Midwest and 5.9% in the South. They were essentially flat, up just 0.1%, in the West, according to the index data.

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