Pending home sales fell slightly in February, but still remain well above levels set in the first half of 2011, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

The NAR Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking indicator of housing activity based on contract signings.

The index hit a level of 96.5 in February, down 0.5% from a score of 97 in January. Still, it remains 9.2% above the February 2011 index score of 88.4.

The data provided reflects the number of contracts signed, but not closings.

“The spring home-buying season looks bright because of an elevated level of contract offers so far this year,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “If activity is sustained near present levels, existing-home sales will see their best performance in five years. Based on all of the factors in the current market, that’s what we’re expecting with sales rising 7% to 10% in 2012.”

Still, pending home sales slipped 0.6% in the Northeast with the index score dropping to 77.7 in February. That is 18.4% above year ago levels.

The index in the Midwest grew 6.5% to an index score of 93.8 and is 19% higher than February of 2011. Meanwhile, pending home sales in the South declined 3% to an index score of 105.8 in February. Still, that is 7.8% above year ago levels.

The West saw its index score fall 2.6% in February to 99.3 — 1.8% below February 2011 levels. 

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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