Pending home sales drop slightly in September

Dennis Norman

The National Association of REALTORS Pending Home Sales Index for September shows a decrease of 1.8 percent in the index from the month before (seasonally adjusted), and a 24.9 percent decrease from a year ago.

Here are highlights from the report:

  • September’s pending home sales index (seasonally adjusted) was 80.9 (the index is based upon 100.0 being equal to the average level of sales activity in 2001 which we could call the last “normal” year) which is the fourth lowest level the index has hit since NAR began the index in 2001.
  • September’s not-seasonally adjusted index index was 77.1, a 15.2 percent decrease from August and a 24.9 percent decrease from a year ago.
  • All regions in the U.S., except the West, saw month-over-month declines and all the regions had year-over-year declines in pending home sales.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is a mix of factors in the housing market. “Existing-home sales have shown some improvement but the foreclosure moratorium is likely to cause some disruption and contribute to an uneven sales performance in the months ahead,” he said. “Nonetheless, there appears to be a pent-up demand that eventually will be unleashed as banks resolve their issues with foreclosures and the labor market improves. However, tight credit and appraisals coming in below a negotiated price continue to constrain the market.”

Higher Mortgage Interest Rates on the way…

“Mortgage interest rates currently are bouncing along the bottom, but are expected to gradually rise and average 4.9 percent next year, then rise to 5.8 percent in 2012,” Yun said.

Existing Home Sales expected to Rise….

Existing-home sales are forecast to gradually rise, with some occasional dips along the way. “For 2011 we should see more than 5.1 million existing-home sales, up from about 4.8 million this year. Housing starts are expected to rise to 716,000 in 2011 from 598,000 this year,” Yun said. “We’ve added 30 million people to the U.S. population over the past 10 years, but sales are where they were in 2000, so there appears to be a sizable pent-up demand that could come to the market once the economy gathers momentum.”

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