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NAR: Pending real estate sales rate rises in February

West sees largest monthly gain

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The rate of pending sales for existing homes rose 2.1 percent compared to January but declined 8.2 percent compared to February 2010, according to a National Association of Realtors report released today.The association's Pending Home Sales Index is based on purchase contracts signed but not yet closed. The index was 90.8 in February -- a score of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity in 2001, the first year that index data was collected."Pending home sales have trended up ... since bottoming out last June, even with periodic monthly declines. Contract activity is now 20 percent above the low point immediately following expiration of the homebuyer tax credit," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, in a statement. The Northeast was the only region to register a month-to-month index drop in February, down 10.9 percent to 65.5. The region also saw the sharpest year-over-year drop, down 18.4 percent. The Midwest saw the second-largest year-over-year ...