NAR urges lenders to release REOs

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The National Association of Realtors today urged lenders to release any bank-owned properties that have been held back in markets with inventory shortages, blaming the tight supply of homes as a factor in a 1.4 percent decline in pending home sales from May to June.Although NAR's Pending Home Sales Index slipped to 99.3 in June, that's up 9.5 percent from the 90.7 reading recorded a year ago, marking 14 consecutive months of year-over-year gains. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, a "historically healthy" year for housing sales.NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said buyer interest "remains strong, but fewer home listings mean fewer contract signing opportunities. We've been seeing a steady decline in the level of housing inventory, which is most pronounced in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors."Yun thinks housing starts will likely need to double over the next two years to satisfy the pent-...