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

Peoples, HomeStreet banks bump lowest salaries after tax cut

The banks with Snohomish County branches will raise minimum salaries for employees to $15 an hour.

Electroimpact cuts Mukilteo staff by 9 percent

“What we’re missing now is a monster anchor project,” the company’s VP said.

Exotic animals find compassionate care in Bothell (video)

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

How can you tell if you are getting good financial advice?

Assume that it’s still the same buyer-beware market that has always existed.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

In this Dec. 20, 2017, photo, a clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon’s potential HQ2 sites leaves many cities disappointed

And yet, some municipal leaders are looking at the bright side of being rejected.

How do you retrieve an errant Boeing 737 from a muddy slope?

Turkish authorities used cranes to lift a plane that skidded off a runway.

Don’t take economic forecasts to the bank — or the casino

Air travel delays could spur a rebirth of passenger rail service.

Emirates orders 20 more Airbus A380 jumbos, saving program

The Dubai carrier also has options to buy 16 more. The program seems safe until 2029.

Most Read