US pending home sales fell 0.7 percent in July

WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans signed contracts in July to buy homes compared to the previous month, as real estate sales are slipping even though economic growth is solid.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its pending home sales index fell 0.7 percent last month to 106.2. During the past year, contract signings have tumbled 2.3 percent as home values have climbed at roughly double the pace of average wage growth.

Home sales have stumbled in recent months despite the robust job market. Affordability has become a challenge as there are few entry-level homes priced below $250,000 being listed for sale and mortgage rates have jumped over the past year.

Pending sales in July fell in the West and South, but they rose in the Northeast and Midwest. Sales in all four geographic regions have declined over the past year, with the sharpest drop in the West where homes are generally more expensive.

Pending sales are a barometer of home purchases that are completed a month or two later.

The Realtors said last week that sales of existing homes have declined for the past four months.

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