Finalized sales of existing homes rose 4.7 percent in February compared to the same month of last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, in big cities with strong job growth, sales gains reached into the double digits in March — including 20.3 percent in Charlotte, N.C., 18 percent in Jacksonville, Fla., and 17.7 percent in Seattle. Sales could pick up even more in the months ahead, based on an NAR gauge that tracks signed home-sale contracts. The pending home-sales index in February was up 12 percent from a year ago. Many economists express optimism for the spring selling season due to more sustainable, positive trends, such as new jobs hitting the strongest pace in 15 years. The FHA has moved to ease borrowing requirements and costs, meanwhile, and many buyers who went through foreclosures during the financial crisis are back in lenders’ good graces. Also, a Federal Reserve move to tighten interest rates could prompt some buyers to lock in low borrowing costs. | Read More