WASHINGTON (November 29, 2012) – Pending home sales rose strongly in October with mixed regional results, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 5.2 percent to 104.8 in October from an upwardly revised 99.6 in September and is 13.2 percent above October 2011 when it was 92.6. The data reflect contracts but not closings.
Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said buyers are responding to favorable market conditions. "We've had very good housing affordability conditions for quite some time, but we're seeing more impact now from steady job creation, and rising consumer confidence about home buying now that home prices have clearly turned positive."
Outside of a few spikes during the tax credit period, pending home sales are at the highest level since March 2007 when the index also reached 104.8. On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales have risen for 18 consecutive months.
Yun noted there are clear regional patterns. "Contract activity surged in the Midwest and is showing very healthy gains in the South, but was down slightly in both the Northeast and West," he said.
"The Northeast saw some impact from Hurricane Sandy, but limited inventory in the West is keeping a lid on the market. All regions are up from a year ago, with double-digit gains in every region but the West," Yun said.
The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.1 percent to 79.2 in October but is 13.3 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 15.6 percent to 104.4 in October and is 20.0 percent above October 2011. Pending home sales in the South rose 5.5 percent to an index of 117.3 in October and are 17.4 percent higher than a year ago. In the West the index declined 1.1 percent in October to 105.7, but is 0.9 percent above October 2011.
The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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* The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.
The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.
NOTE: Existing-home sales for November will be reported December 20 and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be on December 28; release times are 10:00 a.m. EST.