Real estate agents report pending home sales on upswing

May 4, 2010 – Pending home sales increased again in March, affirming that a surge of home sales is unfolding for the spring home buying season, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in March, rose 5.3 percent to 102.9 from 97.7 in February, and is 21.1 percent above March 2009 when it was 85.0; this follows an 8.3 percent increase in February. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which usually occur with a lag time of one or two months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said favorable affordability conditions have been working with the tax credit. “Clearly the home buyer tax credit has helped stabilize the market. In the months immediately following the expiration of the tax credit, we expect measurably lower sales,” he said. “Later in the second half of the year, and into 2011, home sales will likely become self-sustaining if the economy can add jobs at a respectable pace, and from a return of buyer demand as they see home values stabilizing.”

Regional Numbers

  • The PHSI in the Northeast declined 3.3 percent to 75.1 in March, but remains 27.2 percent higher than March 2009.
  • In the Midwest the index increased 1.2 percent to 98.9 and is 18.5 percent above a year ago.
  • Pending home sales in the South jumped 12.7 percent to an index of 121.2, which is 28.3 percent higher than March 2009.
  • In the West the index rose 1.9 percent to 99.9 and is 8.8 percent above a year ago.

“Another encouraging sign is the improvement in the availability for jumbo and second-home mortgages,” Yun said. “As bank balance sheets strengthen, it is just a matter of time before lending of non-government-backed mortgages steadily opens up.”

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