March 28, 2018 / 2:06 PM / a year ago

U.S. pending home sales rise in February

A house-for-sale sign is seen inside the Washington DC Beltway in Annandale, Virginia January 24, 2016. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Files

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contracts to buy previously owned homes rose in February, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.

The NAR’s pending home sales index increased to a reading of 107.5, up 3.1 percent from the prior month. January’s index was revised to 104.3 from 104.6.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales rising 2.1 percent last month.

Pending home contracts are seen as a forward-looking indicator of the health of the housing market because they become sales one to two months later.Home resales surged in February after two straight months of declines but a chronic shortage of homes remains an obstacle to a more robust housing market.

Compared to one year ago, pending sales were down 4.1 percent.

Reporting by Melissa Bland; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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