Pending home sales drop 7.6% in January

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in January, fell 7.6 percent to 90.4 from an upwardly revised 97.8 in December, but remains 12.3 percent higher than January 2009, when it was 80.5.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said weather is likely to impact housing data. “January pending sales, though still higher than one year ago, remain much lower than expected given that a large number of potential buyers are eligible for the expanded home buyer tax credit. Moreover, the abnormally severe and prolonged winter weather, which affected large regions of the U.S., hampered shopping activity in February,” he said.

As such, abnormal swings are expected in housing data. “We will see weak near-term sales followed by a likely surge of existing-home sales in April, May, and June,” Yun said. “The real question is what happens in the second half of the year. If there is sufficient job creation, housing can become self-sustaining with stable to modestly rising home prices because inventory has been trending downward.”

Here’s a look at pending home sales numbers by region:

  • Northeast: Pending home sales fell 8.7 percent to 71.3 in January, but are 20.5 percent higher than January 2009.
  • Midwest: The index dropped 8.9 percent to 81.2 but is 11.8 percent above a year ago.
  • South: Pending home sales slipped 2.1 percent to an index of 98.1, but the index is 18.0 percent higher than January 2009.
  • West: The index dropped 13.2 percent to 102.9 but is 1.4 percent above a year ago.

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