Pending home sales improve slightly
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 0.3% to 106.0 in April from 105.7 in March, and is 10.3% above April 2012 when it was 96.1, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Home contract activity is at the highest level since the index hit 110.9 in April 2010, which was right before the deadline for the home buyer tax credit. Pending sales have been above year-ago levels for the past 24 months.
“The housing market continues to squeak out gains from already very positive conditions,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Pending contracts so far this year easily correspond to higher closed home sales in 2013.”
The PHSI in the Northeast jumped 11.5% to 92.3 in April and is 17.7% above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index rose 3.2% to 107.1 in April and is 15.1% higher than April 2012. Pending home sales in the South slipped 1.1% to an index of 119.2 in April but are 12.3% above a year ago. The index in the West fell 7.6% in April to 94.6 and is 2.6% below April 2012.
Scotts announces phosphorus-free lawn fertilizers
Scotts Miracle-Gro has achieved its goal of removing phosphorus from its Turf Builder brand lawn food maintenance products. The commitment was first announced on World Water Day in 2011 as a partial solution to nutrient runoff that can lead to excessive algae growth in waterways.
"In 2011 we announced that production of our conventional Turf Builder brand lawn food would be phosphorus-free by this season," said Scotts Miracle-Gro chief marketing officer Jim Lyski. "As consumers feed their lawns this spring, they should know they can get great results from our products while also protecting and preserving our water resources."
The 2011 phosphorus-free announcement marked the expansion of a commitment made by the company in 2006 to stakeholders in the Chesapeake Bay area that phosphorus content in lawn foods would be reduced by 50%.
"We are committed to ensuring sustainable water supplies for generations to come, and going phosphorus free was a commitment we were proud to make," said Scotts’ global research and development leader Bruce Caldwell. "Our associates’ enthusiasm for this initiative has been tremendous and we also want to thank the environmental stakeholders we’ve worked with to make it possible."
Because phosphorus is essential to the initial root development of grass plants, the nutrient will remain in Scotts’ starter fertilizers for new lawns and in the company’s lines of organic lawn food — it naturally occurs in the organic materials contained in the products.
Franke Kitchen Systems unveils new faucet suite
Franke, a provider of intelligent systems for domestic kitchens, has announced the launch of its newest faucet family — the FF2400 kitchen faucet and FFBP2400 bar/prep faucet.
The new design is the latest addition to the Franke Luxury product line. The long, curved handle moves with ease. Both the kitchen and bar/prep faucets have pull-down dual-jet sprayheads, delivering stream and spray functions with the touch of a button.
A matching soap dispenser and a line of point-of-use faucets are launching this summer for a complete suite. All products will be available in chrome, old world bronze and satin nickel.