Pending home sales slipped 0.5% to an index reading of 96.5 in February after an unrevised 2.0% increase to 97.0 in January, according to a report released Monday by the National Association of Realtors.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a 1.0% increase for the index.

Year-over-year the pending homes sales index is up 9.2% from the 88.4 posted in February 2011.

“The spring home-buying season looks bright because of an elevated level of contract offers so far this year,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “If activity is sustained near present levels, existing-home sales will see their best performance in five years. Based on all of the factors in the current market, that’s what we’re expecting with sales rising 7 to 10 percent in 2012.”

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