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Pending home sales take an April dive

Pending sales are becoming more scarce The number of homes under contract fell in April, according to an industry index, casting further doubt on the housing market’s chances for a near-term recovery.

The National Assn. of Realtors said its index for pending home sales, which is based on the number of contracts signed each month, fell 11.6% and is down 26.5% from the same month last year. The index hit 81.9 last month. An index level of 100 is considered healthy.

Pending home sales surged a year ago because April 2010 was the last month in which buyers could sign a contract and qualify for a federal tax credit. Home sales and prices have been weak ever since that credit expired.

The poor April showing -- and a downwardly revised March figure --  does not bode well for the spring shopping season, typically the most important month for the housing market. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the real estate group, said in a news release that the drop was not encouraging.

“The pullback in contract signings is disappointing and implies a slower than expected market recovery in upcoming months,” Yun said. “The economy hit a soft patch in April from sharply rising oil prices, widespread severe weather with the heaviest precipitation in 20 years, and a sudden rise in unemployment claims.”

The pending homes sales index in the West fell 8.9% from the prior month. It rose 1.7% in the Northeast, fell 10.4% in the Midwest and dropped 17.2% in the South.

RELATED: 

Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates still falling

Mortgage rates fall to lowest level of 2011

-- Alejandro Lazo

Photo: A home under contract for sale in Massachusetts. Credit: Associated Press

 
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