The National Association of REALTORS® reported that it is seeing some improvement is projected existing-home sales according to its Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in June. The index rose 5.3 percent to 89.0 from a downwardly revised reading of 84.5 in May, but remains 12.3 percent below June 2007 when it stood at 101.4.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales have been in a pattern of rising and falling within a fairly narrow range. “The vacillation of data from one month to the next indicates a housing market in transition,” he said. “The rise in pending home sales was broad-based with all four regions showing gains. This is welcome news because a rise in contract activity is necessary for an overall housing recovery. With a tax credit now available to first-time home buyers, increases in home sales could be sustained with the momentum carrying into 2009.”
• The South jumped 9.3 percent to 92.4 in June but is 16.6 percent below June 2007
• The West, the index rose 4.6 percent to 101.0 in June but remains 1.7 percent below a year ago
• The Northeast increased 3.4 percent to 79.6 but is 15.4 percent below June 2007; and
• The Midwest, the index rose 1.3 percent in June to 79.6 but is 13.3 percent below a year ago
Sales gains have been consistently strong in recent months in Sacramento, Calif.; Las Vegas; and Ft. Myers, Fla., where affordability conditions have greatly improved. The pickup in contract signings appears to be broadening with many affordable markets in mid-America now showing year-over-year gains, including Columbus, Ohio; Charleston, W.V.; Oklahoma City; and Colorado Springs, Colo. Pending sales have fallen significantly in Texas markets and in the Pacific Northwest - two regions with very strong local economies.