Home-Sale Contract Signings Manage Gain, Despite Slim Inventory

Home-Sale Contract Signings Manage Gain, Despite Slim InventoryRising prices are helping keep homes off the market as many homeowners in negative equity and banks holding foreclosed properties opt to say on the sidelines.
But “pending home sales” — the measure used by the National Association of Realtors to indicate completed sales about two months ahead — rose only slightly from March to April, a mere 0.3 percent.
Based on contract signings for the sale of existing homes, the Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index is up 10.3 percent from a year ago to the highest level since April 2010, right before the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit.
The index stands at 106.0. It hit 110.0 in April 2010.
Total existing-home sales are expected to rise just over 7 percent to about 5 million this year, the NAR said.
The national median existing-home price should increase close to 8 percent and exceed $190,000 in 2013, Realtors say.
“Because of inventory shortages, higher home sales will push up home values to the highest level in five years,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
The Pending Home Sales Index in the Northeast jumped 11.5 percent to 92.3 in April and is 17.7 percent above a year ago.
In the Midwest, the index rose 3.2 percent to 107.1 in April and is 15.1 percent higher than April 2012.
Pending home sales in the South slipped 1.1 percent to an index of 119.2 in April, but are 12.3 percent above a year ago.
With significant inventory constraints, the index in the West fell 7.6 percent in April to 94.6 and is 2.6 percent below April 2012.

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