Pending Home Sales Jump in October

From RealtorMag of NAR

 Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pending home sales rose strongly in October and remain above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, surged 10.4 percent to 93.3 in October from 84.5 in September and is 9.2 percent above October 2010, when it stood at 85.5. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said improved contract activity is a hopeful sign. “Home sales have been plodding along at a sub-par level while interest rates are hovering at record lows, and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who normally would have entered the market in recent years. We hope this is indicates more buyers are taking advantage of the excellent affordability conditions,” he said.

“Many consumers are recognizing that home buyers in the past two years have had one of the lowest default rates in history. Moreover, continued inventory declines are another healthy sign for the housing market,” Yun added.

The PHSI in the Northeast surged 17.7 percent to 71.3 in October and is 3.4 percent above October 2010. In the Midwest, the index jumped 24.1 percent to 88.7 in October and remains 13.2 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 8.6 percent in October to an index of 99.5 and are 9.7 percent higher than October 2010. In the West the index slipped 0.3 percent to 105.5 in October but is 8.1 percent above a year ago.

“Although contract signings are up, not all contracts lead to closings. Many potential home buyers inadvertently hurt their credit scores and chances of getting a mortgage through easily averted actions, such as cancelling an old credit line while taking on a new one,” Yun said. “Such actions could unwittingly prevent buyers from obtaining a mortgage if their credit score is close to the margins of qualifying, or they might get a loan but with less favorable terms.”

NAR encourages consumers to be aware of their credit score and actions which could hurt or enhance it. HouseLogic.com, the association’s consumer Web site devoted to all aspects of home ownership, offers tips for improving credit scores at http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/7-tips-improving-your-credit/.

Commentary from Bob Karp of Karp Properties LLC – Locally, in the Sierra Vista & Hereford, Arizona area we are beginning to see more activity.  While the number of home sales has not dramatically increased, the number of buyers entering the market, particularly at price levels under $300,000, has increased.  We are now entering the slower part of the sales year here, but the next two months should tell us if the market is poised for a sustained upturn.