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June 5, 2007 > U.S. pending home sales index drops

U.S. pending home sales index drops

By Alan Zibel, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP), Jun 01 _ Pending sales of existing homes dropped by 3.2 percent in April, compared with the previous month, a real-estate trade group said Friday. Wall Street had been anticipating a slight increase.

The National Association of Realtors' index of pending home sales fell to 101.4, down from an upwardly revised figure of 104.8 in March.

Analysts had expected a month-to-month gain of 0.4 percent for April, according to Briefing.com. Based on an unrevised March reading of 104.3, that means they were anticipating an April reading of 104.7.

The pending sales numbers for both April and March were about 10 percent lower than year-ago levels.

Lawrence Yun, the realtor association's senior economist said in a statement that the relatively flat level of pending sales for March and April provide evidence that home sales ``should be fairly stable in the months ahead,'' following a period of market disruptions.

``On the other hand, psychological factors seem to be holding buyers back as they look for clear signs that the market has bottomed,'' Yun said.

The index, calculated since 2001, is based on a national sample that represents about 20 percent of existing home sales.

It is considered an indicator of how sales will perform in the coming weeks because it measures home purchases in which a sales contract has been signed, but the deal has not yet been closed.

The Realtors group reported last week that sales of existing homes dropped by 2.6 percent in April from March as the median price of a home fell 0.8 percent from year-ago levels to $220,900. The median is the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less.

The slide in existing home sales came after another report showed a more than 16 percent surge in sales of new homes in April.

Analysts saw the new home sales figures as a sign that developers were dropping prices to boost demand. The median price of a new home fell by a record 11.1 percent from the previous month.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.42 percent in its nationwide survey this week, the highest point for 30-year mortgages since they averaged 6.43 the week of Sept. 14.

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