NEW YORK - Pending home sales slipped 3.5% to an index reading of 96.6 in December after an unrevised 7.3% increase to 100.1 in November, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors.

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

Year-over-year the pending homes sales index is up 5.6% from last December, when the index was 91.5.

Regionally, pending sales were mostly lower. The Northeast saw an 3.1% decrease to 74.7, while sales gained 4.0% in the Midwest to 95.3, sales fell 2.6% to 101.1 in the South, and sales dropped 11.0% to 107.9 in the West.

“Even with a modest decline, the preceding two months of contract activity are the highest in the past four years outside of the homebuyer tax credit period,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Contract failures remain an issue, reported by one-third of Realtors® over the past few months, but home buyers are not giving up.

“Housing affordability conditions are too good to pass up.Our hope is lending conditions will gradually improve with sustained increases in closed existing-home sales,” Yun added.



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