In another strong indication of a housing turnaround, pending home sales rose for the third straight month in February, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. Though the 0.8% increase was modest, it’s on an upward trajectory along with existing-home sales and new-home construction, painting a picture of a market on the mend, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. Still, contract signings—a forward-looking indicator of home sales—were down 21.1% from a year ago.
The West was the only major U.S. region to post a decline in pending home sales in February. The news follows a double-digit lift in existing-home sales in February—the first increase for that measure in a year—and the first decline in home prices in more than a decade.
“The affordable U.S. regions—the Midwest and South—are leading the recovery,” Yun says. “Mortgage rates have improved in recent weeks after the federal government guaranteed the status of most mortgages amidst uncertainty in the financial market. While access to commercial mortgage loans could become increasingly difficult, residential mortgage loans are expected to be more readily available.”