Friday, January 14, 2011

MARKET TRENDS: Pending Home Sales Rise

While credit remains tight as we move forward into 2011, top economists expect that if the job market revives this year, and interest rates rise only moderately, the housing market could experience a boost.

Pending homes sales are already on the rise. The National Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index reports that pending homes sales rose in November by 3.5 percent.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said historically high housing affordability is boosting sales activity. "In addition to exceptional affordability conditions, steady improvements in the economy are helping bring buyers into the market," he said. "But further gains are needed to reach normal levels of sales activity."

Across the nation, we see regionally diverse markets, however. The Northeast saw pending home sales rise by 1.8 percent, but this figure is still 6.2 percent below November 2009. The West also saw a stunning 18.2 percent jump. This jump leaves it within 0.4 percent of year ago levels.

Both the Midwest and South saw declines, though, in pending sales. The Midwest declined 4.2 percent and is still 7.7 percent below year ago levels. The South fell only 1.8 percent.

"As we gradually work off the excess housing inventory, supply levels will eventually come more in-line with historic averages, and could allow home prices to rise modestly in the range of 2 to 3 percent in 2012," Yun said.

For now, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage remains in the low five percent range, which is near a historical low. The extension of Bush-era tax credits, as well as renewed hopes of job growth could very easily translate into more sales on the housing market horizon.

Carla Hill January 4, 2011

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