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US pending-house sales fell in August

By JOSH BOAK
AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pending-house sales slipped in August as fewer Americans signed contracts to purchase a house, showing the fourth such decline in the past five months.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday that its pending-house-sales index fell by 1.8 percent last month to 104.2. This measure of contract signings has tumbled 2.3 percent in the past year, showing the sharpest annual decline of 11.2 percent in the West, where houses generally cost more.

The recent setbacks suggest that the combination of rising prices, higher mortgage rates and a small number of sales listings are putting houses out of reach for many.

In August, contract signings slipped from one month to the next in the country’s four major geographic regions: Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

Pending sales are a barometer of houses purchases that will be completed a month or two later. Over the past year, the number of completed sales of existing houses has tumbled 1.5 percent.

The costs pressures caused by rising prices had been minimized by historically low mortgage rates. But the average interest charged on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.72 percent, the highest seen since April 2011, according to the mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

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