US pending home sales up 3.2 percent

July sales are back to 2007 levels, a new report said Tuesday.

Lisa Poole/AP/File
A sale pending sign is posted in front of a home in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass. Pending home sales rose a record sixth month in a row in July, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

A forward-looking index of not-yet-finalized home sales rose for a record six months in a row, providing fresh evidence that America's housing market is improving.

Pending home sales in July grew 3.2 percent over June's seasonally adjusted figure and were 12 percent above last July's level, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Tuesday. July's rise gave the index its sixth straight monthly rise, the first time that's happened in the index's eight-year history. At 97.6, the index has now recovered to 2007 levels.

Regionally, however, the picture was more mixed. Pending home sales fell 3 percent in the Northeast between June and July and 2 percent in the Midwest, while they rose in the South (up 3.1 percent) and boomed in the West (up 12 percent. The level of sales in the West has now reached levels that exceed the real estate boom year of 2006.

Depressed home prices, low mortgage rates, and an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers were attracting buyers, said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, in a release. "The buyer psychology may be shifting from, ‘Why buy now when I can purchase later,’ to ‘I don’t want to miss out on a recovery.’ ”

The NAR is calling on Congress to extend the tax credit to first-time home buyers beyond its Nov. 30 expiration.

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