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An existing home for sale is seen in Silver Spring MarylandBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. home resales fell to their lowest level in more than 1-1/2 years in March, but there were signs a recent downward trend that has plagued the housing market may be drawing to an end. The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday existing home sales slipped 0.2 percent to an annual rate of 4.59 million units. "The negative housing momentum, which was exacerbated by severe weather conditions during the winter months, may be starting to fade," said Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New York. While the terrible weather has accounted for some of the slump, a rise in mortgage rates and home prices, and a dearth of properties on the market, also sidelined potential buyers.


A "Sold" sign hangs in front of a house in Toronto, OntarioBy Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada jumped in March from February and prices continued to tick higher as the winter deep freeze ended and home buyers started to come back into the market, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Tuesday. The industry group for Canadian real estate agents said sales activity was up 1.0 percent last month from February, and February's gain was revised up to a 0.6-percent rise, from 0.3 percent reported previously. "The release of pent-up demand from the winter months and a renewed downdraft in mortgage rates will help boost sales further in the coming months," David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a research note. CREA's home price index rose 5.2 percent from March 2013, a slight acceleration from February's 5.1 percent gain.


French BNP Paribas bank logo is seen at their presentation of their 2010 annual results in ParisBy Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Tiisetso Motsoeneng (Reuters) - BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, has offered to buy South African unsecured lender RCS Group for 2.65 billion rand ($253 million) from clothing retailer Foschini Group and Standard Bank, they said on Thursday. RCS, which offers store credit cards and personal loans and insurance, is owned 55 percent by Foschini and the remainder by Standard Bank, Africa's largest lender. The business would be run by BNP Paribas's Paris-based Personal Finance unit, which said the transaction would be in line with its international growth strategy.


Homes are seen for sale in the northwest area of PortlandNEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week as refinancing slipped, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 1.6 percent in the week ended April 4. The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 4.9 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, rose 2.7 percent. Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4. ...


A "Price Reduced" sign is displayed on a home for sale in northern Virginia suburb of ViennaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week on lower refinancing demand, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, declined 1.2 percent in the week ended March 28. The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 2.9 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, rose 0.9 percent. Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4. ...


This Friday, March 21, 2014 photo shows a home for sale in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Standard & Poor's releases S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for January, on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices dipped in January for a third straight month, likely because of slower sales in recent months caused by cold weather, a limited supply of homes and higher mortgage rates.


Single family homes for sale are seen in San MarcosBy Margaret Chadbourn WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Emily Hanson would like to buy a house, but she worries that she and her husband may have to move across the country to achieve their goal. In December, Emily, a 30-year-old student, and Nels Hanson, a 33-year-old software developer, began searching in Boston, where a shortage of homes for sale has driven up prices. The median sale price in the Boston area is $340,000, according to monthly updates on property values by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. "It's basically a question of accepting a smaller home, or one that needs work, or do we uproot ourselves completely, which would entail my husband leaving a job that he loves." The Hansons are far from the only would-be buyers who risk being crowded out by the run-up in home prices and mortgage rates over the past year.


A builder works on the the roof of a new home under construction in the Montreal suburb of BrossardBy Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home prices rose in February, pushing a national index of prices to a record high for the second month in a row, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Wednesday. Price increases are still outpacing income gains by a wide margin in many markets, a situation we deem unsustainable in the longer run," TD Economics analyst Sonny Scarfone wrote in a research note. Canada's housing market has remained stubbornly robust in recent years, notwithstanding a slowdown in 2012 when the federal government tightened mortgage lending rules to prevent home buyers from taking on too much debt to get into the market. While some observers fear the booming housing market - prices rise 26 percent in the last five years, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association - could crash like the U.S. market did in 2008-2009, most economists expect a gradual cooling in demand and prices as mortgage rates rise.


Buffett, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, poses for a portrait in New YorkBy Lauren Young New York (Reuters) - In his most recent Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter, the ever-folksy Warren Buffett sounds more like a personal finance guru than a financial mastermind, focusing on buy-and-hold investing and advocating indexing strategies. Buffett's net worth is about $60 billion, according to Forbes magazine, so he is obviously doing something right. Buffett is a longtime fan of Jack Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, who champions passive, low-cost investing. Says Buffett: "I believe the trust's long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors - whether pension funds, institutions or individuals." Face value, that's a solid recommendation, although it might seem a bit odd, considering that Berkshire Hathaway has underperformed the S&P 500 in the past five years, and is trailing it slightly in 2014.


An existing home for sale is seen in Silver Spring MarylandBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Severe cold weather and a shortage of houses on the market pushed U.S. home resales to an 18-month low in January, the latest indication economic activity has hit a soft patch. The National Association of Realtors said on Friday that home sales dropped 5.1 percent last month to an annual rate of 4.62 million units, the lowest level since July 2012. The Realtors group said unseasonably cold weather was partly to blame, but it also acknowledged some fundamental weakness, with fewer homes on the market to choose from and higher mortgage rates and prices reducing affordability. "Some housing activity will be delayed until spring," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.


To match ANALYSIS CANADA-HOUSING/By Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home prices rose to a record high in January as Vancouver prices surged, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Wednesday, even as other housing indicators have shown a cooling market. Canada's housing market had roared back to life through much of 2013 after a 2012 slowdown, but was showing signs of cooling in the final months of last year, and economists have been calling for a soft landing as construction and demand slow and price gains decelerate. "Despite the uptick in home prices, we maintain the view that prices will soften," Mazen Issa, senior Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a research note. "Very favorable financial conditions are expected to erode as continued tapering by the Federal Reserve and a more robust growth backdrop lead to higher mortgage rates." In October, the Bank of Canada dropped its policy tightening bias, increasing expectations that official interest rates will remain at historically low levels for longer than had been thought.


By Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian housing starts fell more than expected in January, data released on Monday showed, reinforcing the view that the country's housing market is stabilizing after a recent boom. Starts slowed to 180,248 units last month at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, a report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp showed, shy of the 184,000 forecast by economists. The January figure continues a trend that has seen groundbreakings slow from 187,923 units in 2013 and the breakneck pace of 214,827 starts in 2012, when the housing market was at record highs and the government intervened to tighten mortgage lending rules. Economists are largely predicting a softer but stable Canadian market this year as mortgage rates edge higher and the economy continues to chug along slowly.

To match ANALYSIS CANADA-HOUSING/By Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's federal housing agency nudged up its forecast for housing starts and prices in 2014 and said sales and construction will be steady to higher in 2015 as an improving economy tempers the impact of rising mortgage rates. The view from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp suggests the nation's once-roaring housing market is settling into a soft landing, with construction moderating to more sustainable levels and sales and prices ticking slowly higher. The CMHC said on Thursday housing starts will be in a range of 176,600 and 199,800 in 2014, with a point forecast, or most likely outcome, of 187,300 units, relatively unchanged from 187,923 units in 2013. That is up slightly from CMHC's October estimate of 184,700 starts.


Job seekers wait to meet potential employers at career fair at Rutgers University in New BrunswickBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. home resales rose in December after three straight months of declines, showing some resilience in the housing market recovery despite higher mortgage rates. While other data on Thursday showed a marginal rise in first-time applications for unemployment benefits last week and a slowdown in factory activity this month, the deterioration was not enough to change the picture of an improving economy. Sales of previously owned homes rose 1 percent last month to an annual rate of 4.87 million units, the National Association of Realtors said. "The recent housing market slowdown is being exacerbated by transitory factors such as weather," said Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New York.


The logo for Wells Fargo bank is pictured in downtown Los AngelesBy Peter Rudegeair and Anil D'Silva (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co posted a better-than-expected 11 percent jump in quarterly profit as it cut costs, but mortgage lending slowed to the lowest level in five years. The fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets said core lending grew by 6 percent, boosted by a sharp jump in trade finance, commercial real estate and other loans to foreign companies and a 10 percent rise in auto loans - a feat that Chief Financial Officer Tim Sloan called "absolutely terrific." The bank also dipped into money it had set aside to cover bad loans, as credit quality improved with a recovering economy. "We sit here this January as an economy, and frankly as a company, in better shape than I have sat here in the last five or six Januaries," Chief Executive John Stumpf said on a conference call after Wells Fargo reported its results. The mortgage business, which had been one bright spot for banks such as Wells, suffered a steep decline industry-wide as fewer consumers refinanced home loans because of higher mortgage rates.


File photo of shopper walking down aisle in newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in ChicagoBy Steven C. Johnson NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumers' mood improved as 2013 drew to a close, with many optimistic about their future job prospects, while home prices rose again in October, though the pace of gains slowed. The data releases provided more evidence of strength in the U.S. economy, which appears to have overcome headwinds caused by an autumn government shutdown, higher taxes and rising mortgage rates. We had better GDP growth even though interest rates have gone up with the Fed," said Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services, adding "2014 will be a better year with less fiscal drag." The rise in the Conference Board's index of consumer attitudes to 78.1 in December brought it to within reach of levels last seen before a standoff in Congress over fiscal policy caused the government to shut down in October. "Despite the many challenges throughout 2013, consumers are in better spirits today than when the year began," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.


Single family home is shown for sale in EncinitasHousing prices have been rising since early 2012, and a rebound in the sector has helped the U.S. recovery gain steam. But the more subdued monthly gains "show we are living on borrowed time and the boom is fading," David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. "The key economic question facing housing is the Fed's future course to scale back quantitative easing and how this will affect mortgage rates," he said.


A view of single family homes for sale in San MarcosBy Alister Bull WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes edged up in November, marking the first increase in six months and providing a hopeful sign the sector has begun to stabilize after its momentum was sapped by rising mortgage rates. The National Association of Realtors said on Monday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 0.2 percent from October, to 101.7. "Several housing indicators have improved recently and the very modest increase in pending home sales in November is a tentative sign that activity is stabilizing, or perhaps even picking up," said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York. Housing sales had been dampened by a rise in mortgage rates, which began to climb earlier this year as investors bet the Federal Reserve would start to reduce the stimulus it provides the U.S. economy.


A view of single family homes for sale in San MarcosApplications for U.S. home mortgages fell for a second week and hit a 13-year low as mortgage rates rose due to a bond market sell-off following the Federal Reserve's decision to pare its bond purchase stimulus in January, an industry group said on Tuesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 6.3 percent to the lowest level since December 2000. Mortgage applications have fallen sharply since this summer on a jump in home finance costs as benchmark Treasuries yields eventually rose to a two-year high. "Following the Federal Reserve's taper announcement, mortgage application volume dropped again last week, with rates increasing and refinance application volume falling to its lowest level since November 2008," Mike Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics, said in a statement.


A new subdivision project of residential homes in shown in Highland, MarylandSales of new U.S. single-family homes fell modestly in November from a five-year high and prices pushed higher, indicating the housing market is weathering higher mortgage rates. The Commerce Department said on Tuesday sales fell 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000 units. Higher mortgage rates have slowed the pace of home resales since August, but activity is expected to accelerate next year, driven in part by employment gains. At November's sales pace it would take 4.3 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, the fewest since June.


In this Nov. 14, 2013 photo, a home is advertised for sale in Matthews, N.C. The National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes in November on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people who bought existing U.S. homes in November declined for the third straight month. Higher mortgage rates have made home-buying more expensive, while the lingering effect of the October government shutdown might have deterred some sales.


In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 photo, construction continues on a new single family home in Mount Lebanon, Pa. The Commerce Department reports the pace at which builders broke ground on homes in November on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders broke ground on homes at the fastest pace in more than five years, strong evidence that the housing recovery is accelerating despite higher mortgage rates.


A view of single family homes for sale in San MarcosThe Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 5.5 percent to 374.6 in the week ended December 13. Mike Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics, said the index dropped to its lowest "in more than a dozen years... as interest rates increased going into today's Federal Open Market Committee meeting." The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications fell 4.3 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, lost 6.1 percent. The refinance share of total mortgage activity rose to 65.8 percent of applications from 65 percent the week before, while adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) fell to 7.9 percent of total applications, down from 8.1 percent last week, which had been its highest level since July 2008. Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.62 percent in the week, up 1 basis point from 4.61 percent the week before.


Sale signs line homes surrounded by slag heaps in Thetford MinesBy Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada dipped in November from October as a surge in autumn sales spurred by rising mortgage rates abated, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Monday. The industry group for Canadian real estate agents said sales activity was down 0.1 percent last month from October. While actual sales for November, not seasonally adjusted, rose 5.9 percent from a year earlier, CREA said activity was sharply lower than just two months earlier, when the prospect of rising mortgage rates spurred home buying. "National sales activity in November stood 3.4 percent below the peak reached in September, providing further evidence that activity in the later summer and early fall was likely boosted by home buyers with pre-approved mortgages at lower than current interest rates jumping into the market before their pre-approvals expired," CREA said.


The Bank of England is seen against a blue sky in the City of LondonThe Bank of England is fully aware that Britain's housing market has a "microwave-type quality" with a tendency to go suddenly from lukewarm to scalding hot, its chief economist said on Friday. But Spencer Dale said the central bank now had more tools to deal with that risk than in the past. Dale's comments echo those of Governor Mark Carney who warned this week that Britain's housing market had a history of moving "from stall speed to warp speed." Record low mortgage rates and a sharp economic upturn has lifted annual house price inflation in Britain to almost 8 percent, according to mortgage lender Halifax. Dale acknowledged that household spending had so far been the biggest driver of Britain's economic recovery.


By Leah Schnurr TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home prices edged down in November in their first decline in nine months, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Thursday, the latest indication the country's housing has cooled from earlier this year. The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed national prices slipped 0.1 percent last month from October. The housing market cooled last year after Canada's government tightened mortgage rules amid worries that low interest rates were prompting Canadians to take on too much debt. Economists say worries of rising mortgage rates may have prompted a surge of activity in the summer that is cooling off into the end of the year.

A new subdivision project of residential homes in shown in Highland, MarylandSales of new U.S. single-family homes recorded their biggest increase in nearly 33-1/2 years in October, suggesting the housing market recovery remains intact despite higher mortgage rates. The strong rise in new home sales, which are measured when contracts are signed, suggested higher mortgage rate had not derailed the housing market recovery. Higher mortgage rates have slowed the pace of home sales, but demand for accommodation as household formation continues to recover from multi-decade lows is keeping demand supported.


A new subdivision project of residential homes in shown in Glenelg, MarylandApplications for U.S. home loans tumbled in the latest week, led by a sharp slide in refinancing applications, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, sank 12.8 percent in the week ended November 29. The fall in mortgage applications comes as investors try to gauge when the U.S. Federal Reserve might exit its bond-buying program. MBA data showed 30-year mortgage rates rose 3 basis points in the latest week to 4.51 percent.


A new subdivision project of residential homes in shown in Glenelg, MarylandBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Permits for future U.S. home construction hit a near 5-1/2 year-high in October and prices for single-family homes notched big gains in September, suggesting a run-up in mortgage interest rates has not derailed the housing recovery. The data releases on Tuesday were the latest signs of strength in the economy, despite headwinds from rising mortgage rates and last month's partial government shutdown. "The reports reinforce the notion that the housing sector is successfully digesting the summer mortgage rate pop," said Mike Englund, chief economist at Action Economics in Boulder, Colorado. Building permits jumped 6.2 percent last month to an annual rate of 1.03 million units, the highest since June 2008, the Commerce Department said.


Single family homes for sale are seen in San MarcosBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Permits for future U.S. home construction rose to their highest in nearly 5-1/2 years in October and prices for single-family homes notched big gains in September, suggesting a run-up in mortgage interest rates has not derailed the housing recovery. The data releases on Tuesday were the latest signs of strength in the economy, despite headwinds from last month's budget fight, which led to a partial government shutdown, and rising mortgage rates. Permits, which lead housing starts by at least a month, increased 5.2 percent in September and were up 13.9 percent from a year ago.


FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, file photo, a home is advertised for sale in Matthews, N.C. The National Association of Realtors reports on the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in October on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell in October for the fifth straight month. Higher mortgage rates, price increases and the 16-day partial government shutdown held back sales.


FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, file photo, a home is advertised for sale in Matthews, N.C. The National Association of Realtors reports on the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in October on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell in October for the fifth straight month. Higher mortgage rates, price increases and the 16-day partial government shutdown held back sales.


In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, photo, a home is advertised for sale in Matthews, N.C. The National Association of Realtors reports on sales of previously occupied homes in October on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans bought existing homes in October, as higher mortgage rates, the 16-day partial government shutdown and a limited supply of houses on the market reduced sales.


A completed house is seen behind the earthworks of a home currently under construction in BrandywineU.S. homebuilder confidence stabilized in November after falling for two straight months, though steady home demand was tempered by worries about further fiscal battles in Washington, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday. "Given the current interest rate and pricing environment, consumers continue to show interest in purchasing new homes, but are holding back because Congress keeps pushing critical decisions on budget, tax and government spending issues down the road," the Washington-based industry group's chairman Rick Judson said in a statement. "The fact that builder confidence remains above 50 is an encouraging sign, considering the unresolved debt and federal budget issues cause builders and consumers to remain on the sideline," NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in the same statement from the group. Though tension over fiscal issues remains, the jump in mortgage rates this summer has been the main culprit behind the disruption in the housing recovery.


Residential and commercial buildings are pictured in Vancouver, British ColumbiaBy Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada declined in October from September, suggesting the summer surge in sales was boosted by homebuyers who jumped into the market amid the threat of rising mortgage rates, dampening demand as the year draws to a close. The Canadian Real Estate Association said on Friday sales activity was down 3.2 percent last month from September, ending a string of monthly gains that began in the spring. The industry group for Canadian real estate agents said October's decline returned activity to near where it stood in June and July. "While the decline in new listings points to waning momentum, one off month for sales does not make a trend as the substantial decline in October appears to be payback from earlier in the summer when sales activity was brought forward to lock in mortgages before further increases," Mazen Issa, Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a research note.


A condominium building under construction is seen in downtown TorontoBy Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada declined in October from September, suggesting the summer surge in sales was boosted by homebuyers who jumped into the market amid the threat of rising mortgage rates, dampening demand as the year draws to a close. The Canadian Real Estate Association said on Friday sales activity was down 3.2 percent last month from September, ending a string of monthly gains that began in the spring. The industry group for Canadian real estate agents said October's decline returned activity to near where it stood in mid-2012, before the government tightened mortgage lending rules to cool the nation's red-hot housing market. "While the decline in new listings points to waning momentum, one off month for sales does not make a trend as the substantial decline in October appears to be payback from earlier in the summer when sales activity was brought forward to lock in mortgages before further increases," Mazen Issa, Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a research note.


The sign for a development built by D.R. Horton is seen in Arvadasaid home sales picked up in October as mortgage rates eased from two-year highs and the effects of policy paralysis in Washington faded. Shares of the largest U.S. homebuilder, which also reported a better-than-expected 40 percent jump in quarterly revenue, rose 2 percent before the bell. "Since D.R. Horton ... did not cut prices or raise consumer incentives to drive volumes, we view today's beat as enough of a catalyst to continue buying the shares," Sterne Agee & Leach analyst Jay McCanless wrote in a note to clients. Orders booked by homebuilders slowed this year - the second full year of the U.S. housing market recovery - as mortgage rates hit a two-year high in July and the Federal Reserve started talking about easing the stimulus launched during the financial crisis.


A real estate sign stands outside a three-bedroom and one-bath home in BurbankWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mortgage payments in the second quarter took the smallest bite out of U.S. households' after-tax income in at least three decades, Federal Reserve data showed on Tuesday. Homeowners spent 7.9 percent of after-tax income on mortgage payments during the period, the lowest in records going back to 1980 and a tenth of a point less than in the prior quarter. The drop came despite a sharp increase in mortgage rates in May, and could represent a combination of rising incomes and a rush by homeowners to refinance loans before rates rise further. ...


FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, file photo, a sale pending announcement sits atop a for sale sign in a home's yard in Richardson, Texas. The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes dropped sharply in September 2013 to the lowest level in nine months, reflecting higher mortgage rates and home prices that have made purchases more costly. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy existing homes fell in September to the lowest level in nine months. The decline reflects higher mortgage rates and home prices that have made purchases more costly.


A real estate sales sign sits outside of a house for sale in Phoenix, ArizonaWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes fell by the most in more than three years in September, a sign that a softer economy and a rise in mortgage rates are hurting the country's housing market. The National Association of Realtors said on Monday its Pending Homes Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, plunged 5.6 percent to 101.6, the fourth monthly fall in a row. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a slight increase. Mortgage rates have risen sharply since May on bets that the U.S. ...


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