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Home sales fall for 8th-straight month in February

Home sales fall for 8th straight month in February

A sale pending sign is posted in front of home for sale in Greenbrae, California.
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A sale pending sign is posted in front of home for sale in Greenbrae, California.

Home buyers signed fewer contracts to buy existing homes in February.

So-called pending home sales fell for the eighth-straight month, down 0.8 percent from a downward revised January reading, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales are now down 10.5 percent from a year ago. Pending sales are an indicator of future closings, which usually happen one to three months later.

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Realtors have blamed particularly rough winter weather in much of the country for the slowdown in sales; they now say there are signs the market is improving.

"Contract signings for the past three months have been little changed, implying the market appears to be stabilizing," Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, said in a release. "Moreover, buyer traffic information from our monthly Realtor survey shows a modest turnaround, and some weather delayed transactions should close in the spring."

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Closed sales of existing homes have been down for the past six months, as potential buyers face fast-rising prices and higher mortgage rates from a year ago. Mortgage applications to purchase a home have been running historically low but did bump up slightly last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Regionally, the pending home sales index fell 2.4 percent in the Northeast month to month and is 7.4 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index rose 2.8 percent but is 8.5 percent lower than February 2013. Pending home sales in the South fell 4.0 percent and are 9.3 percent below a year ago. The index in the West increased 2.3 percent but is 16.5 percent below February 2013.

—By CNBC's Diana Olick.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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