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Pending Home Sales Index Rises Back Above 100

December 30, 2011

Pending Home Sales IndexLow home prices and mortgage rates have combined to push home affordability to record levels nationwide. Home buyers are taking advantage.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 7 percent in November to rise to its highest level since April 2010, the last month of last year’s home buyer tax credit program. 

The Pending Home Sales Index is published monthly by the National Association of REALTORS®. It measures homes under contract nationwide, but not yet “sold”. 

In this way, the Pending Home Sales Index is different from other housing market indicators. It’s a “forward-looking” figure; a predictor of future home sales. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, more than 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days. 

By contrast, housing data such as the Existing Home Sales report and the New Home Sales report “look back”.

November marks the second straight month of Pending Home Sales Index improvement. The housing market metric made big gains of 10 percent in October 2011, as well.

On a regional basis, each part of the country showed an increase in homes under contract.

  • Northeast Region: +8.1 percent from October 2011
  • Midwest Region : +3.3 percent from October 2011 
  • South Region : +4.3 percent from October 2011
  • West Region : +14.9 percent from October 2011

However, we must discount the value of even the regional data, somewhat. Like else in real estate, the volume of homes going under contract vary by locality.

Throughout the West Region, for example, the region in which pending home sales increased the most from October, there are nearly a dozen states. Undoubtedly, some of those states performed better than others in terms of “homes under contract”, but we don’t have an indication of which states those were.

In addition, within each state, every city, town, and neighborhood realized its own unique market in November, and produced its own sales statistics.

For buyers and sellers throughout the country, therefore, it’s more important to watch data on a local level than on a national one. Reports like the Pending Home Sales Index are helpful in showing national trends, but as an individual, what you need are local trends.

For local real estate data, be sure to ask your agent.

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