US Pending Home Sales Slip, Gains Expected

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a slight dip in pending U.S. home sales in its latest Pending Home Sales Index, but NAR economists expect sales to …

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a slight dip in pending U.S. home sales in its latest Pending Home Sales Index, but NAR economists expect sales to rise as much as 10% by the close of 2012. Every region save for the West, and particularly California, is showing better performance in pending home sales than what was seen last year, although experts note these statistics reflect contracts rather than actual sales. New York, by contrast, has experienced very positive growth in sales contracts, median home prices and existing home sales. Some counties in the state saw as much as a 182% gain in the number of homes sold compared to last year. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.

Nationwide US pending home sales were down slightly in February but remain notably above the pattern in the first half of last year, according to the latest figures from the National Association of Realtors.

Its Pending Home Sales Index, a forward looking indicator based on contract signings, eased 0.5% to 96.5 in February from 97 in January but is 9.2% above February 2011 when it was 88.4. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said that the figures are a continuation of an uneven but higher sales pattern. ‘The spring home buying season looks bright because of an elevated level of contract offers so far this year. If activity is sustained near present levels, existing home sales will see their best performance in five years. Based on all of the factors in the current market, that’s what we’re expecting with sales rising seven to 10% in 2012,’ he explained.

The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.6% to 77.7 in February but is 18.4% above a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 6.5% to 93.8 and is 19% higher than February 2011. Pending home sales in the South fell 3% to an index of 105.8 in February but are 7.8% above a year ago. In the West the index declined 2.6% in February to 99.3 and is 1.8% below February 2011.

Meanwhile, New York’s housing market experienced a double digit sales increase in February from a year earlier, even while sales declined from January, figures from the New York State Association of Realtors show.

Existing single family home sales by its members in February grew 9.6% to 4,521 from 4,124 from a year ago. The figure is 2.6% behind the prior month’s total of 4,639.

Median sales price in the Empire State have remained above $200,000 since May 2011. At $220,000, the median price is 8.3% below the year earlier median of $239,900 but 6.3% higher than $206,960 in December.

‘For the third straight month, the statewide median sales price has increased and is at the highest point since September 2011. Despite some fluctuation, the monthly statewide median has remained above $200,000, providing a positive indicator for the market,’ said NYSAR chief executive officer Duncan MacKenzie.

Chenango, Washington, Essex, Schuyler, Lewis, Madison and Otsego counties all had triple digit gains from a year earlier in terms of homes sold in the state. Chenango county had the highest gain at 182%.

But pending home sales shot up in California in February as more buyers signed contracts to acquire homes, according to the California Association of Realtors. CAR’s pending home sales index grew from 102.3 in January to 127.8 in February.

In February, the share of distressed sales recorded in California fell due to a lack of inventory in the bank owned segment and in the short-sale market, CAR said.

‘In fact, REO inventory declined 24% in February from the previous year, while short sale inventory dropped 17% during the same period,’ said CAR president LeFrancis Arnold.

Equity sales in California made up 51.1% of home sales in February, compared to 49.9% and 44.8% of all sales in January 2012 and February 2011, respectively.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.

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