The National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that pending home sales for February--that's signed contracts, not closed sales--fell slightly from a year earlier, but inched higher from January. (The year-over-year change is the better indicator.)
From the report:
The Pending Home Sales Index a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in February, rose 2.1 percent to 82.1 from a reading of 80.4 in January, but is 1.4 percent below February 2008 when it was 83.3…
NAR’s Housing Affordability Index rose 0.9 percentage points to a record high of 173.5 in February from an upwardly revised index of 172.6 in January, and is 36.3 percentage points higher than a year ago. The HAI, a broad measure of housing affordability using consistent values and assumptions over time, shows that the relationship between home prices, mortgage interest rates and family income is the most favorable since tracking began in 1970.
Here's what Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist for High Frequency Economics, had to say about the data in a report:
The pending sales index rose 2.1% in February, better than the consensus forecast of no change but not as big a gain as we hoped to see...Our core view now is that home sales have leveled off after the post-Lehman lurch downwards, but we think a sustained recovery is still some way off.