Pending Home Sales Turn Around in May

Pending home sales rose strongly in May with all regions experiencing gains from a year ago, pointing to higher housing activity in the second half of the year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 8.2 percent to 88.8 in May from an upwardly revised 82.1 in April and is 13.4 percent higher than the 78.3 reading in May 2010. The data reflects contracts but not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

This is the first time since April 2010 that contract activity was above year-ago levels, and the monthly gain was the strongest increase since last November when the index rose 10.6 percent.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the improvement bodes well for home prices. “Absorption of inventory is the key to price improvement, and this solid gain in contract signings implies that home values in many localities are or will soon be stabilizing as inventories get absorbed at a faster pace,” he said.

“Some markets have made a rapid turnaround, going from soft activity to contract signings rising by more than 30 percent from a year ago, including areas such as Hartford, Conn., Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Houston, and Seattle,” Yun added.

Pending home sales have trended up unevenly since bottoming last June, rising in seven of the past 11 months. “Home sales still could be 15 to 20 percent higher,” Yun said. “If banks would simply return to normal, sound underwriting standards and begin lending to more creditworthy borrowers, we’d get a much faster recovery in the housing sector.”

“In addition, a nonsensical situation has developed recently in some states with HUD unable to complete foreclosure deals because of insufficient funds to pay attorney fees at closing, even with buyers offering the full listing price,” Yun added.

Regional Performance:

  • The PHSI in the Northeast rose 7.3 percent to 69.2 in May and is 4.4 percent above a year ago.
  • In the Midwest, the index jumped 10.5 percent to 82.8 and is 17.2 percent higher than May 2010.
  • Pending home sales in the South increased 4.1 percent to an index of 95.0 in May and are 14.6 percent higher than a year ago.
  • In the West, the index surged 12.9 percent to 100.6 and is 13.5 percent above May 2010.

Yun cautioned that healthy job creation is necessary to ensure a solid recovery in both housing and the overall economy. “The job market has sputtered recently, and because variations in local job creation impact housing demand, markets will recover unevenly around the country,” he said.

Source: NAR; Blog distribution provided by Kenneth Bargers and Bargers Solutions, a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors, residential real estate services located in Nashville, Tennessee

Greater Nashville Home Sales Increase for 8th Consecutive Month

GNAR releases housing statistics for May 2010.  YTD information is included:

Source: Greater Nashville Association of Realtors

Market Report for the Week Shows Strong Home Sales!

Mortgage bond prices ended the week nearly unchanged despite considerable market volatility. Trading was up and down all week. Rates improved the first portion of the week as stocks fell below key psychological levels. Unfortunately a reversal the middle portion of the week eroded the earlier improvements. Data was mixed with tame inflation readings but generally stronger than expected economic activity. For the week, interest rates were near unchanged.

The Treasury auctions will take center stage again this week. If there is strong foreign demand it will likely spill over to the mortgage bond market. Weak auctions will likely result in mortgage interest rate increases. Employment cost index data will also be carefully watched.

Last week’s existing home sales data shocked the market with a stronger than expected increase. Sales rose 9.4%, considerably stronger than the expected 5.5% increase. Some analysts attribute the surge in sales to the $8000 tax credit that is currently set to expire at the end of November. Lower home prices and historically low mortgage interest rates also factored into the increase. From a national perspective this is a positive report. However, the fact that some major metropolitan areas of the country failed to see improvements is an example of the axiom that real estate is local.

There is still uncertainty regarding the future state of the economy. Mortgage rates are great. Take advantage of them while that remains the case.

Source: Todd Kabel, US Bank, Nashville, Tennessee