A National Association of Realtors index that tracks pending home sales dropped 5.2 percent from February 2005 to February 2006, and fell 0.8 percent from the January 2006 level. The Pending Home Sales Index, which is based on home-sale contracts signed in February, was 117.7 in February. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed and the transaction has not closed, but the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing, the trade group noted. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001 – the first year to be examined and the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales. David Lereah, chief economist for the Realtor group, referred to the dropping index as a "normalization." He said in a statement, "We can expect a historically strong housing market moving forward, earmarked by generally balanced conditions across the country and fairly stable levels of home sales with some month-to-month flu...
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