WASHINGTON - Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy U.S. homes in July, but the level stayed close to a 6 1/2-year high. The modest decline suggests higher mortgage rates have yet to slow sales sharply.
The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales declined 1.3 per cent to 109.5. That's close to May's reading of 111.3, the highest since December 2006.
The small decline suggests sales of previously owned homes should remain healthy in the coming months. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.
Sales jumped to an annual pace of 5.4 million in July, the highest in 3 1/2 years. Higher mortgage rates appeared to have a bigger impact on new-home sales, which plummeted last month.