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Pending Home Sales Maintain Holding Pattern

Pending home sales remained essentially flat in November, with regional shifts more or less offsetting each other, the ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR) reported.

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The group's ""Pending Home Sales Index"":http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2013/12/pending-home-sales-edge-up-in-november (PHSI), used as an indicator for expected home sales, bumped up slightly to 101.7 in November from October's downwardly revised 101.5. Compared to last November, the latest index was down 1.6 percent.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the data indicates a flattening market.

""We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014,"" Yun said. ""Although the final months of 2013 are finishing on a soft note, the year as a whole will end with the best sales total in seven years.""

In the Northeast, pending sales declined 2.7 percent to an index value of 82.6, though that was still 1.9 percent above last year. The Midwest also experienced a monthly drop, posting a 3.1 percent decrease to a reading of 100.6 (0.4 percent higher than November 2012).

Meanwhile, in the South, pending home sales rose 2.4 percent to an index of 116.1, coming up 0.1 percent above last year. The West's index increased 1.8 percent to 95.0 but fell 8.7 percent short of last year, partly due to ongoing inventory constraints, NAR said.

The association's pending sales index only reflects contracts, not actual sales numbers. For all of 2013, NAR expects total existing-home sales to reach 5.1 million, a 10 percent improvement over 2012.

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