The National Association of Realtors is predicting existing-home sales will jump 7 to 10 percent in 2012 to the highest level in five years, based on an "uneven but higher sales pattern" so far this year.

Pending home sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent from January to February, which was up 9.2 percent from the same time a year ago, NAR said today in releasing its latest Pending Home Sales Index.

Last week, NAR reported a similar trend for existing-home sales, which were down 0.9 percent from January to February, but up 8.8 percent from a year ago.

The pending sales data released today provides a glimpse into more recent trends, because it tracks homes that were under contract in February — deals that will in most cases be finalized within one or two months.

NAR said 31 percent of Realtors experienced contract failures in February, in some cases because buyers’ mortgage applications were rejected or because appraisals came in below the negotiated price.

In the Northeast, NAR’s index slipped a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent from January but was up 18.4 percent from a year ago.

The Midwest saw a month-over-month gain of 6.5 percent and a 19 percent gain from a year ago.

Pending home sales fell 3 percent in the South from January to February, but were up 7.8 percent from a year ago.

In the West, the index declined 2.6 percent from January to February and was 1.8 percent below the index rating in February 2011.

In its latest economic forecast, NAR predicts existing-home sales will total 4.65 million in 2012, up 9.1 percent from last year. That forecast assumes that the U.S. economy will grow at a 2.3 percent annual rate and add 2.7 million jobs this year.

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