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Number of signed contracts to buy homes falls in ABQ area

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A sale pending announcement sits atop a for sale sign in a homes yard in Richardson, Texas on Feb. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

A sale pending announcement sits atop a for sale sign in a homes yard in Richardson, Texas on Feb. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

The number of consumers who signed contracts to buy existing homes in November was essentially unchanged from October on a national level, but down in the Albuquerque area from the same month last year and the previous month.

There were 729 pending sales in the Albuquerque area in November, compared with 761 pendings in October and 779 in November of last year, the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors reported.

The group also reported that the median sale price of a single-family home in November was $170,000, a 3.0 percent increase from last year at this time, and new listings entering the market in November rose 19.37 percent from last yea. Listing inventory finished the month at 4,255 homes on the market, a 9.0% increase from last November.

The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index ticked up to 101.7 from 101.5 in October. The October figure was revised lower from an initial reading of 102.1.

Higher mortgage rates and strong price gains over the past two years have slowed sales. The pending home sales index had fallen for five straight months before November. And completed sales of existing homes fell for three straight months, the Realtors said earlier this month.

There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

The average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage edged higher to 4.48 percent last week, from 4.47 percent the previous week. Rates jumped about 1.25 percentage points from May through September, peaking at 4.6 percent. That increase occurred after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that the Fed would start to slow its bond-buying program before the end of the year.

Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said that recent housing market indicators have been mixed. Applications for mortgages to purchase homes fell to a nearly two-year low last week, he said.

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