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U.S. Pending Home Sales Jump Much More Than Expected In March

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A report released by the National Association of Realtors on Tuesday showed pending home sales in the U.S. jumped by much more than expected in the month of March.

NAR said its pending home sales index surged up by 3.8 percent to 105.8 in March after slumping by 1 percent to 101.9 in February. Economists had expected pending home sales to jump by 1.1 percent.

Despite the monthly rebound, pending home sales in March were still down by 1.2 percent compared to the same month a year ago, reflecting the 15th straight month of annual decreases.

A pending home sale is one in which a contract was signed but not yet closed. Normally, it takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted the pending home sales data has been exceptionally fluid over the past several months but predicted that numbers will begin to climb more consistently.

"We are seeing a positive sentiment from consumers about home buying, as mortgage applications have been steadily increasing and mortgage rates are extremely favorable," Yun said.

The bigger than expected increase in pending home sales was partly due to strength in the West, where pending sales soared by 8.7 percent.

Pending home sales in the South and Midwest also spiked by 4.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, while pending sales in the Northeast tumbled by 1.7 percent.

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