WASHINGTON (December 30, 2013) – Pending home sales stabilized in November with a slight gain, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Monthly increases in the South and West offset declines in the Northeast and Midwest.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched up 0.2 percent to 101.7 in November from a downwardly revised 101.5 in October, but is 1.6 percent below November 2012 when it was 103.3. The data reflect contracts but not closings.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market is flattening. “We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014,” he said. “Although the final months of 2013 are finishing on a soft note, the year as a whole will end with the best sales total in seven years.”
Yun said the market still favors buyers in most of the country, but higher mortgage interest rates in combination with strong price gains mean a more modest growth in values is expected in 2014.
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.7 percent to 82.6 in November, but is 1.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 3.1 percent to 100.6 in November, but is 0.4 percent higher than November 2012. Pending home sales in the South rose 2.3 percent to an index of 116.1 in November, and are 0.1 percent above a year ago. The index in the West increased 1.8 percent in November to 95.0, but is 8.7 percent below November 2012, in part from inventory constraints.
Total existing-home sales this year are expected to reach 5.1 million, a gain of almost 10 percent over 2012, but should stay at that level in 2014, and then rise to 5.3 million in 2015. The national median existing-home price for all of this year will be close to $197,300, up nearly 12 percent from 2012, but is projected to rise at a more moderate pace of 5 to 5.5 percent in 2014, and grow another 4 percent in 2015.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. For additional commentary and consumer information, visit www.houselogic.com and http://retradio.com.
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*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.
The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.
NOTE: Existing-home sales for December will be reported January 23 and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be January 30; release times are 10:00 a.m. EST.