Pending Home Sales on an Upswing

Pending home sales increased again in March 2010, affirming that a surge of home sales is unfolding for the spring home buying season, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in March, rose 5.3% to 102.9 from 97.7 in February, and is 21.1% above March 2009 when it was 85.0; this follows an 8.3% increase in February. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which usually occur with a lag time of one or two months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said favorable affordability conditions have been working with the tax credit. “Clearly the home buyer tax credit has helped stabilize the market. In the months immediately following the expiration of the tax credit, we expect measurably lower sales,” he said. “Later in the second half of the year, and into 2011, home sales will likely become self-sustaining if the economy can add jobs at a respectable pace, and from a return of buyer demand as they see home values stabilizing.”

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 3.3% to 75.1 in March but remains 27.2% higher than March 2009. In the Midwest the index increased 1.2% to 98.9 and is 18.5% above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South jumped 12.7% to an index of 121.2, which is 28.3% higher than March 2009. In the West the index rose 1.9% to 99.9 and is 8.8% above a year ago.

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