Pending home sales rose slightly in September and are now above year-over-year levels for the first time in 11 months, according to the National Association of Realtors®. But NAR’s monthly pending sales repot disappointed observers and underscored the problems facing the housing sector
The pending home sales index increased 0.3% after dropping 1% in August, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1% gain. Estimates in the Bloomberg survey of 41 economists forecasting pending home sales ranged from a decline of 1.5% to an advance of 2.5%.
Tight credit and price increases through the middle of 2013 have limited buying activity. About 15 percent of the real estate agents surveyed for the index said they couldn’t close a deal because the buyer was unable to obtain a mortgage.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says moderating price growth and sustained inventory levels are keeping conditions favorable for buyers. “Housing supply for existing homes was up in September 6 percent from a year ago, which is preventing prices from rising at the accelerated clip seen earlier this year,” he said. “Additionally, the current spectacularly low mortgage rates should help more buyers reach the market.”
Yun says the final rule on Qualified Residential Mortgages should improve access to credit once it goes into effect next year. “The rule provides clarity for lenders and is a win for creditworthy consumers by ensuring they continue to have access to safe and affordable loan products without overly burdensome down payment requirements,” he said.
The PHSI in the Northeast increased 1.2 percent to 87.5 in September, and is now 2.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index decreased 1.2 percent to 101.2 in September, and is now 4.0 percent below September 2013.
Pending home sales in the South increased 1.4 percent to an index of 118.5 in September, and is 1.7 percent above last September. The index in the West inched back 0.8 percent in September to 101.3, but is still 3.6 percent above a year ago.
Yun will present NAR’s 2015 economic outlook and forecast on Friday, Nov. 7 at the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans. Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt will join Yun to discuss his perspective on the current housing market, issues facing consumers and sustaining the ongoing housing market recovery.