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RISMEDIA, March 8, 2010—(MCT)—In another sign that the foundation of the U.S. housing recovery might be shaky, the number of homes placed under sales contract fell 7.6% in January 2010, according to a national index.

The National Association of Realtors recently said that its pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in January, fell to 90.4 from an upwardly revised 97.8 in December. That remains 12.3% higher than January 2009, when it was 80.5. The group blamed the weather for the month-over-month decline.

“January pending sales, though still higher than one year ago, remain much lower than expected given that a large number of potential buyers are eligible for the expanded home buyer tax credit,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors group, said in a statement. “Moreover, the abnormally severe and prolonged winter weather, which affected large regions of the U.S., hampered shopping activity in February.”

The January results were the lowest since April. The biggest month-over-month drop came in the West, where the index declined 13.2%. The index fell 8.9% in the Midwest, 8.7% in the Northeast and 2.1% in the South.

(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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