WASHINGTON (August 29, 2011) – Pending home sales declined in July but remain well above year-ago levels, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. All regions show monthly declines except for the West, which continues to show the highest level of sales contract activity.
The Pending Home Sales Index, which measures the number of home sales contracts signed, slipped 1.3% in July, but is 14.4% above the level seen in July 2010.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said sales activity is underperforming. “The market can easily move into a healthy expansion if mortgage underwriting standards return to normalcy,” he said. “We also need to be mindful that not all sales contracts are leading to closed existing-home sales. Other market frictions need to be addressed, such as assuring that proper comparables are used in appraisal valuations, and streamlining the short sales process.”
Regional pending home sales
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.0% in July but is 9.7% above July 2010. In the Midwest the index slipped 0.8% but is 18.8% above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South fell 4.8% but are 9.5% higher than July 2010. In the West the index rose 3.6% and is 20.6% above a year ago.
“Looking at pending home sales over a longer span, contract activity over the past three months is fairly comparable to the first three months of the year, and well above the low seen in April,” Yun said. “The underlying factors for improving sales are developing, such as rising rents, record high affordability conditions, and investors buying real estate as a future inflation hedge. It is now a question of lending standards and consumers having the necessary confidence to enter the market.”
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