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Contracts to buy US homes rise in hopeful sign

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This July 10, 2014 photo shows a house with sale pending sign in Quincy, Mass. The National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for July on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

This July 10, 2014 photo shows a house with sale pending sign in Quincy, Mass. The National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for July on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

More consumers across the country and in the Albuquerque area signed contracts to buy homes in July, a sign that buying has improved as mortgage rates have slipped, the number of listings has risen and the rate of price increases has slowed.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 3.3 percent to 105.9 last month. Still, the index remains 2.1 percent below its level a year ago.

The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors reported 986 pending sales in July up from 939 the month before. That 986 was lower than July 2013′s 997 pending sales, but an MLS system change last October means pending sales are now calculated only once for a particular

property, whether or not that property goes under contract multiple times during the month.

Albuquerque area average and median sale prices were both up from the same time last year. The median sale price of detached, single-family homes for July 2014 was $190,000, a 4.4% increase from July 2013. The average sales price also increased from July 2013 to $230,750, an increase of 3.7%, GAAR reported.

“Listing inventory remains at healthy levels and there are plenty of great homes to choose from in the greater Albuquerque metro market,” said GAAR president John Kynor in a statement.

The pressures that caused home sales to stall last year have started to ease. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has dropped to 4.1 percent, a 52-week low. Prices are no longer rising at double-digit annual rates, thereby helping to improve affordability.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Price growth, which had hurt affordability at the end of last year, has moderated in recent months.

 

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