U.S. Pending Home Sales increase slightly in February; mixed results regionally

Dennis Norman

The National Association of REALTORS Pending Home Sales Index for February shows an increase of 2.1 percent in the index from the month before (seasonally adjusted), and a 8.2 percent decrease from a year ago. There were some wide swings regionally in this months statistics as the Northeast region had a 10.9 percent decline from the prior month and the West had a 7.0 percent increase.

Here are highlights from the report for February 2011:

  • The pending home sales index (seasonally adjusted) was 90.8 (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 a 2.1 percent increase from the month before and an 8.2 percent decrease from a year ago.
  • The”not-seasonally adjusted” index index was 80.1, a 12.8 percent increase from the month before and a 9.3 percent decrease from a year ago.
  • The Northeast region was the only region that had a month-over-month decrease with a 10.9 percent decrease (seasonally adjusted). The West had the largest month-over-month increase with a 7.0 percent increase, followed by the Midwest with a 4.0 percent increase and the South with a 2.7 percent increase.
  • All regions saw year over year declines.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS says it’s important to look at the broader trend. “Month-to-month movements can be instructive, but in this uneven recovery it’s important to look at the longer term performance,“. “Pending home sales have trended up very nicely since bottoming out last June, even with periodic monthly declines. Contract activity is now 20 percent above the low point immediately following expiration of the home buyer tax credit.”

Yun notes there could have been some weather impact in the February data. “All of the regions saw gains except for the Northeast, where unusually bad winter weather may have curtailed some shopping and contract activity.”

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