By Ed Frankl


The number of houses going under contract in the U.S. unexpectedly rose in February for a third consecutive month, suggesting the contraction in the housing sector could be reversing. Here are the main takeaways from the National Association of Realtors' report released Wednesday:

--The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 0.8% to 83.2 in February.

--Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected the index to fall by 3.0%.

--Despite recent gains, pending home sales declined by 21.1% compared with the same month a year earlier.

--"After nearly a year, the housing sector's contraction is coming to an end," Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist said.

--Mortgage rates have improved in recent weeks after the federal government guaranteed the status of most mortgages amid uncertainty in the financial market, Mr. Yun said.

--Pending home sales increased in three of the four major U.S. regions in February. Transactions rose 0.7% in the South, 0.4% in the Midwest, and 6.5% in the Northeast, but fell 2.4% on month in the West.


Write to Ed Frankl at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 29, 2023 10:14 ET (14:14 GMT)

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