Up, down, left and right — pending home sales made big leaps in February across all major U.S. regions.

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contract signings, sprung forward to 112.3 in February, up 5.5 percent from January’s 106.4.

To what can we attribute the boost? NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says that an unusually warm February may have triggered an early spring buying season. In other words, home shoppers were ready to get out of hibernation in their own house and into another!

“Buyers came back in force last month as a modest, seasonal uptick in listings were enough to fuel an increase in contract signings throughout the country,” Yun said. “The stock market’s continued rise and steady hiring in most markets is spurring significant interest in buying, as well as the expectation from some households that delaying their home search may mean paying higher interest rates later this year.”

Regional breakdown

  • Northeast: PHSI increased 3.4 percent to 102.1 in February, 6.6 percent above a year ago.
  • Midwest: PHSI increased 11.4 percent to 110.8 in February, 0.6 percent lower than February 2016.
  • South: PHSI increased 4.3 percent to 127.8 in February, up 4.2 percent year over year.
  • West: PHSI increased 3.1 percent in February to 97.5, 0.2 percent higher than the same time last year.

“Looking ahead to the busy spring months, Yun expects to see continued ebbs and flows in activity as new supply struggles to replace listings that are going under contract at a very quick pace. This is especially the case at the lower- and mid-market price ranges, where choices are minimal and prices are being bid higher by multiple offers,” NAR noted in its PHSI report.

About the PHSI

NAR uses a large national sample of signed residential property sale contracts to build its monthly pending home sales index. The sample size typically represents about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales.

The index level was benchmarked to 100 in 2001, which was the first year to be examined. Existing-home sales in 2001 were in the 5 million to 5.5 million range, which is considered normal for the population in the U.S.

Email Marian McPherson

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