April 7, 2010
Pending home sales rose in February 2010, potentially signaling a second surge of home sales in response to the home buyer tax credit, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in February, rose 8.2% to 97.6 from a downwardly revised 90.2 in January, and remains 17.3% above February 2009 when it was 83.2. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which usually occur with a lag time of one or two months.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the improvement is another hopeful sign. “The rise in buyer contact activity may signal the early stages of a second surge of home sales this spring. The healthy gain hints home prices are continuing to flatten,” he said. “We need a second surge to meaningfully draw down inventory and definitively stabilize home values.”
The PHSI in the Northeast rose 9.0% to 77.7 in February and is 18.9% higher than February 2009. In the Midwest the index jumped 21.8% to 97.9 and is 18.7% above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South increased 9.2% to an index of 107.0, and the index is 17.5% higher than February 2009. In the West the index fell 4.8% to 98.0 but is 14.6% above a year ago.
“Anecdotally, we’re hearing about a rise of activity in recent weeks with ongoing reports of multiple offers in more markets, so the March data could demonstrate additional improvement from buyers responding to the tax credit,” Yun said.