Strong Rebound in Pending Home Sales

Pending home sales jumped in October, showing a positive uptrend since bottoming in June, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index rose 10.4 percent to 89.3 based on contracts signed in October from 80.9 in September. The index remains 20.5 percent below a surge to a cyclical peak of 112.4 in October 2009, which was the highest level since May 2006 when it hit 112.6. The trade group says last October, first-time buyers were motivated to make offers before the initial contract deadline for the tax credit last November. The data reflect contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said excellent housing affordability conditions are drawing home buyers. “It is welcoming to see a solid double-digit percentage gain, but activity needs to improve further to reach healthy, sustainable levels. The housing market clearly is in a recovery phase and will be uneven at times, but the improving job market and consequential boost to household formation will help the recovery process going into 2011,” he said, adding that more importantly, a return to more normal loan underwriting standards and removal of unnecessary underwriting fees for very low risk borrowers is needed and could quickly help in the housing and economic recovery.

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