Pending home

WASHINGTON – The pace of Americans signing contracts to buy homes picked up last month, rebounding from a drop in January.

The National Association of Realtors says its pending sales index rose 3.1 percent in February to 107.5 after tumbling 5 percent in January. Despite the uptick, the index is still down 4.1 percent from a year earlier.

Lawrence Yun, chief at economist at the association, blamed the uneven performance on a shortage of homes on the market. “The minuscule number of listings on the market and its adverse effect on affordability are squeezing buyers and suppressing overall activity,” he says.

Pending sales surged 10.3 percent in the Northeast, rose 3 percent in the South but eked out gains of just 0.7 percent in the Midwest and 0.4 percent in the West.