WASHINGTON (AP) - Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in June, as the real estate market appears to have cooled off this summer.
The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index slipped 1.1 percent to 102.7 last month. The index remains 7.3 percent below its level a year ago.
Sales have been slowed by a mix of meager wage growth, rising home prices, and mortgage rates that rose steadily through the end of last year.
Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.
Signed contracts in June fell in the Northeast and South. They rose slightly in the Midwest and West. Pending sales in all four U.S. regions are below last year's pace.
Home sales had been improving through the middle of 2013, only to stumble over the past 12 months. Buying has decelerated despite a recent decline in mortgage rates and home prices increasing at a slower rate than last year.
Sales were initially disrupted by harsh winter weather, but the summer slowdown suggests that financial pressures are now keeping would-be buyers on the sidelines.
"The latest decline raises questions about the housing market strength after the weather-related rebound is behind us," said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an analyst at BNP Paribas.