Pending home sales index falls

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in November, fell 2.6 percent to a reading of 87.6 from a strong upward revision of 89.9 in October, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The index remains above the August and September readings and “indicates a broad stabilization,” according to the trade group. However, the November 2007 number was 19.2 percent below the November 2006 level of 108.4.  

Over the next few months, existing-home sales are expected to hold fairly steady as indicated by pending sales activity, then rise later in the year and continue to improve in 2009, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

“On the one hand, we have a pent-up demand from the four million jobs added to our economy over the past two years of sales decline,” Yun said. “On the other, consumers continue to wait for additional signs of market stabilization ... A meaningful recovery in existing-home sales could occur as early as this spring, or it may be further delayed toward late 2008.”

The PHSI in the South rose 2.3 percent in November to 100.7, but is 19.8 percent below a year ago. In the West, the index slipped 2.1 percent to 86.6 and was 18.5 percent lower than November 2006. In the Midwest, it fell 4.1 percent to 82.1, down 18.6 percent from 2006. In the Northeast, the index dropped 13 percent to 70.1, 19.1 percent below 2006.

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