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US pending home sales fall in December

US pending home sales fell in December to a two-year low, but tough weather conditions and low inventory were partly to blame, the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday.

WASHINGTON: US pending home sales fell in December to a two-year low, but tough weather conditions and low inventory were partly to blame, the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday.

NAR said its pending home sales index, an indicator based on signings of sales contracts, fell 8.7 percent from November to 92.4 in December.

The index was also 8.8 percent lower than a year ago, and at its lowest level since October 2011, NAR said.

"Unusually disruptive weather across large stretches of the country in December forced people indoors and prevented some buyers from looking at homes or making offers," said NAR economist Lawrence Yun.

But Yun said the strong gains in home prices in the past year could be having an impact, since household incomes have not been rising at the same pace.

"At the same time, a lack of inventory means insufficient choice," he said, adding that it could take months to discern the real strength or weakness in the market.

The NAR predicts total sales of existing, or used, homes this year should be around 5.1 million, roughly the same pace as 2013.

But with inventory remaining limited in much of the country, it forecasts the median price could gain 5.4 percent, slowing from an 11.5 percent annual increase in 2013.

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