hazy
Friday May 29th, 2015 6:08AM

Contracts to buy US homes fell in February

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the eighth straight month in February, a sign that real estate sales will likely slow over the next few months.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dropped 0.8 percent to 93.9. The index has fallen 10.5 percent over the past 12 months.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases: A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a signed contract and a completed sale.

Higher mortgage rates, rising prices and a limited supply of homes have slowed sales since the index peaked in June. Snowstorms appear to have crimped purchases in the Northeast during February.

Most economists expect sales to rebound as the weather improves and the spring buying season begins. But 2014 has started at a far weaker pace than last year. The higher prices and loan rates appear to have made homes unaffordable for some would-be buyers.

The Realtors said last week that sales declined 0.4 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.6 million. It was the sixth decline in seven months. The trade group forecasts that sales will slip to 5 million this year from 5.1 million in 2013.

An index that tracks mortgage applications fell last month to its lowest level since December 2000. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of refinancing and home-buying demand dropped 8.5 percent in the week that ended Feb. 21.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index was 46 in February. Readings below 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as poor rather than good.

And sales of new homes declined 3.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The steep discounts on home prices that followed the Great Recession have largely disappeared. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index said Tuesday that prices rose a strong 13.2 percent in January compared with 12 months earlier.

And the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.4 percent this week, nearly a full percentage point more than it was a year ago.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 4 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 4 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 4 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 4 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
Wreck involving church bus results in multiple injuries
A head-on crash involving a church bus and a Lincoln Town Car left around 20 people hurt near Toccoa Thursday night.
12:04AM ( 6 hours ago )
3rd Ga. man pleads guilty in anti-government militia plot
ROME, Ga. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a third man has pleaded guilty in an anti-government militia plot.
10:02PM ( 8 hours ago )
Hall Co. Commission delays agreement with F. Branch for road improvements
An intergovernmental agreement that has been in consideration for four years that would bring turn lanes and new pavement to the intersection of McEver Road and Gainesville Street is going to wait, at least for now.
8:30PM ( 9 hours ago )
Interim Gainesville City Manager announced
Melody Marlowe, the city's Chief Financial Officer, has been named the Interim Gainesville City Manager and will begin her duties on July 3.
5:23PM ( 12 hours ago )
Federal prosecutors indict ex-US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on bank-related charges
CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors indict ex-US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on bank-related charges.
5:08PM ( 12 hours ago )