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Pending home sales up over the year, even more so than NAR reports

Signed contracts on homes

Pending home sales or signed contracts on homes are down 1.2 percent in August from July but up 7.7 percent from August 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Additionally, there was inconsistent performance by region with some performing well and others poorly.

The pending home sales index fell 5.8 percent in the Northeast for the month, but has risen a slight 1.3 percent over the year, with the volume of signed contracts (and interest in sales) remaining stable. Pending home sales also experienced a decline in the Midwest, dropping 3.7 percent from July but is up 8.2 percent over the year, a promising data point for the region.

The South region saw a rise in contracts signed of 2.6 percent and has risen a total of 7.6 percent over the year and although the West region dropped 2.4 percent for the month, it has seen a 10.5 percent over August 2010, the biggest jump of any region.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the decline reflects an uneven market. “The biggest monthly decline was in the Northeast, which was significantly disrupted by Hurricane Irene in the closing weekend of August,” he said. “But broadly speaking, contract signing activity has been holding in a narrow range for many months.”

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Yun said the market is underperforming given a pent-up demand in household formation. “We continue to experience a pattern in which financially qualified home buyers, willing to stay well within their means, are being denied credit – a factor in elevated levels of contract failures,” he said. “Based on the improving fundamentals of population growth, some job additions, rent increases and higher stock market wealth, we should be seeing existing-home sales closer to 5.5 million, but are expecting just over 4.9 million this year. The unnecessarily restrictive mortgage underwriting standards are attenuating the housing recovery and are a risk factor for the overall economy.”

Is data better than NAR claims?

MarketWatch columnist, Lee Adler wrote, “It is clear that the collapse in prices is beginning to at least bring some buyers back into the market. While a high percentage of contracts are still falling through, this increase in demand over last year’s levels is not a one-month wonder. It has now persisted for four months. It is not yet up to 2009 levels when the market was false stimulated by government tax breaks to buyers, but it is 3.4% above 2008 levels.”

Adler notes, “As it turns out, the NAR is screwing its own pooch because the actual, not manipulated data is actually much better than the seasonally smoothed numbers imply. That’s not to say sales are great. They remain 25% below the peak levels reached during the bubble, but the fact is that sales were up in August, and not just by a little. They were up by 9.4% month to month, and were 13.1% above the level of last August.”

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Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Ruthmarie Hicks

    September 29, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    At some point there will be a realization that purchasing a home still makes financial sense. Real estate markets are notoriously cyclic. There are many with poor credit or just not qualified because of self-employment that would LOVE to take advantage of these insanely wonderful prices and literally gorgeous interest rates. The big problem that I see with qualified buyers is that many have a chip on their shoulders and feel they are entitled to a mansion for pennies on the dollar. If credit started opening up to let more buyers into the market – this group would shape up, the foot-dragging and unreasonable demands would end – and the market would start to gain its legs again.

    In the meantime – we need jobs, jobs, JOBS! The middle class in our area is on life support and there are those who would turn off the respirator. The days when we can be casual about the outsourcing of America are OVER. We have to repair our infrastructure – which would put people to work immediately – to create a 21st century environment that business is attracted to. Stop the nonsense, pass the jobs bill and realize that if don't invest in ourselves no one else will.

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