Pending sales of existing homes in U.S. rose 5.1 percent in March
WA Post: The number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes rose more than forecast in March, a sign the industry that triggered the recession may begin to stabilize.
The index of pending home resales climbed 5.1 percent after a revised 0.7 percent increase the prior month, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 1.5 percent rise.
An improving job market, falling home prices and low borrowing costs may help to attract more buyers in coming months. At the same time, foreclosures are worsening the glut of unsold properties, one reason a sustained housing recovery is yet to develop almost two years after the end of the recession.
“Positive news on the housing market is welcomed with open arms,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. “The sector should receive support from job growth and lending rates, which are expected to stay fairly low.”
Sales were projected to rise after an originally reported gain of 2.1 percent in February, according to the median of 32 forecasts in the Bloomberg survey. Estimates ranged from no change to a gain of 3.2 percent. From a year earlier, pending home sales fell 11.5 percent.
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