March pending home sales hit highest level in nearly 3 years

WASHINGTON — New contracts signed for home sales rose 1.5 percent last month to the highest level in nearly three years, though limited supply is causing the market to level off, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

The trade group’s Pending Home Sales Index rose to 105.7 in March, up from the previous month’s 104.1 and exceeding analysts’ expectations.

Compared to a year earlier, the index was up 7 percent last month, marking the 23rd straight month of year-over-year increases.

The last time the closely watched reading was as high was in April 2010, as people scrambled to sign contracts before the expiration of a special homebuyers tax credit.

New contracts for home sales last month increased the most – 2.7 percent – in Southern states. The West showed a 1.5 percent increase, while the Midwest was up 0.3 percent and the Northeast was flat.

The index was another indication of improvement in the housing market. But there are signs the recently hot real-estate market is cooling off, said Lawrence Yun, the group’s chief economist.

“Contract activity has been in a narrow range in recent months, not from a pause in demand but because of limited supply,” he said.

Yun expected closings to show little movement in the short term, but said that “they should edge up modestly as the year progresses.”

The group expects existing home sales to rise to nearly 5 million sales this year, an increase of about 6.5 percent to 7 percent over 2012. The median price for existing home sales is expected to rise about 7.5 percent.

More in Herald Business Journal

Driving the Dodge Demon, the world’s fastest production car

Our test took place at US 131 Motorsports Park, on a fully prepped professional drag strip.

Mountlake Terrace-based 1st Security Bank wasn’t traded publicly during the recession, but it has seen a steady growth since the recession. (Jim Davis / HBJ)
How stocks in local banks fared since the recession

Every bank was hit hard during the recession, but most have bounced back in a big way.

A look at what some stores have planned for Black Friday

With unemployment low, stores are hoping customers are in a mood to shop.

Boeing bolsters team for potential 797 with leading engineer

Terry Beezhold has been chief project engineer for the 777X program.

Tom Hoban
Are millennials warming up to life in suburbia?

They dominate the apartment market and their wants need to be accounted for, says columnist Tom Hoban.

Camano artist mixes flask, paintings for successful cocktail

Art flasks prove popular as bachelorette gifts, birthday presents and wedding favors.

Katie Garrison
New agent joins Re/Max Elite’s office in Snohomish

Re/Max Elite welcomed a new agent to its Snohomish office. Katie Garrison… Continue reading

UW Bothell Pub Talk looks at Greenhouse Gas Mystery

The Greenhouse Gas Mystery is the topic for the next UW Bothell… Continue reading

EvergreenHealth Monroe pharmacy interns travel to Ghana

Earlier this year, University of Washington School of Pharmacy students and EvergreenHealth… Continue reading

Most Read