Pending U.S. Home Sales Fell in February

Chicago–Pending U.S. home sales hit their lowest level in February since the National Association of Realtors’ index began–indicating the housing slump is far from over.The NAR seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes declined from a revised January reading of 86.2 to 84.6, according to the New York Times. Because of a one- to two-month lag between contract signings and deal closings, the NAR numbers indicate how March sales may play out.August’s 85.8 reading marked the previous low. In February 2007, the index was 107.6. In 2001, when the index was started, the average level of sales activity was about 100.Dropping home prices and credit issues could reflect difficult conditions for the housing market this year. However, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the pending home sales drop ”implies we’re not out of the woods yet, though an era of successive deep sales declines appears to be over.” Chicago-based NAR has forecast that the housing market will improve in the second half of 2008.