The number of contracts to buy previously owned homes in the U.S. rose in June for a fifth straight month and exceeded economists’ forecasts, as lower prices and mortgage rates attracted buyers.The 3.6 percent gain in the index of signed purchase agreements, or pending home resales, followed a 0.8 percent gain the prior month that was larger than previously estimated, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington.Foreclosure-driven declines in home values and tax incentives are putting houses within reach of first-time buyers, helping to stabilize the real-estate market, which has been the biggest drag on economic growth. At the same time, with mortgage rates no longer dropping and unemployment still rising, it may be months before a sustained recovery in housing takes hold.
By Courtney Schlisserman, August 4, 2009 Bloomberg

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