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Pending home sales reach near year peak

Pending homes sales inched up in March for the second consecutive month but high house prices are slowing sales in the West region, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported.

NAR’s pending sales index rose 1.4 percent to the level of 110.5 for the month, which is the highest reading since May 2015. The index is based on contract signings, and was benchmarked at 100 in 2001 when sales ranged from 5 million to 5.5 million.

The March increase was driven by strong contract signings in the Northeast region and solid gains in the Midwest, NAR said. The South region was largely flat, while the West region declined.

“The affordability [of homes] is really beginning to impact the buyers in the West region,” NAR’s Chief Economist Lawerence Yun said in a webcast Wednesday. He noted prices have gained 40 percent in the West over the past three years, whereas prices have increased by just 10 percent in the Northeast region in the same period.

Yun said that strong job creation in the West could lessen the impact on rising home prices, however.  


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