Pending homes fall in June, supply blamed

WASHINGTON,| Thu Jul 26, 2012 – Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly fell in June as fewer properties came on the market, an industry group said on Thursday, pointing to weak home resales in July.
The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in June, slipped 1.4 percent to 99.3. May’s reading was revised down to show a 5.4 percent increase from a previously reported 5.9 percent.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected signed contracts, which become sales after a month or two, to rise 0.2 percent.
“Buyer interest remains strong but fewer home listings mean fewer contract signing opportunities,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
“We’ve been seeing a steady decline in the level of housing inventory, which is most pronounced in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors.”
Pending home sales were up 9.5 percent in the 12 months to June. Home resales fell sharply in June.
Contracts in the Northeast fell 7.6 percent in June and slipped 0.4 percent in the Midwest. In the South, contracts declined 2.0 percent.
The West saw a 2.6 percent increase in contracts in June.

Pending homes sales near two-year high in March

WASHINGTON, Thu Apr 26, 2012 – Contracts to purchase previously owned homes increased solidly to a near two-year high in March, suggesting the spring selling season got off to a firmer start and offering hopes of a pickup in housing.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in March, jumped 4.1 percent to 101.4, the highest level since April 2010.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected signed contracts, which lead existing home sales by a month or two, to rise 1.0 percent after a previously reported 0.5 percent fall.

March’s strong rise in signed contracts pointed to a pick up in home resales after they stumbled in the past two months.

The housing market, saddled with an oversupply of unsold properties, has struggled to regain its footing since collapsing in late 2006. It remains a major constraint to faster economic growth.

“First quarter sales closings were the highest first quarter sales in five years. The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good,” said Lawrence Yun, chief NAR economist.

Signed contracts were up 12.8 percent in the 12 months to March.

Contracts rose strongly in the South and West, but fell in the Northeast and Midwest.

Existing home sales fall 2.6 percent in March; supply tightened

WASHINGTON, Thu Apr 19, 2012 — Home resales fell in March but the supply of properties on the market tightened and prices inched higher, giving mixed signals about the pace of recovery in the still-struggling housing sector.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday that existing home sales slipped 2.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.48 million units last month.

However, February’s sales pace was revised slightly higher to 4.60 million units from the previously reported 4.59 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales at a 4.62 million-unit sales pace last month.

The NAR said even with March’s decline, the pace of sales in the first three months of the year marked the strongest first quarter since 2007.

An improving labor market has Realtors upbeat about sales prospects for the rest of the year.

“This appears to be very sustainable,” said NAR economist Lawrence Yun, referring to the pace of sales during the first quarter.

And in a sign that the nation’s glut of unsold homes was easing, inventories fell to 2.37 million. Realtors in some markets have reported shortages of housing stock, Yun said.

Nationwide, the median price for a home resale rose to $163,800 in March, up 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

Distressed sales accounted for 29 percent of resales, down from 34 percent in February, the NAR said.

Pending homes sales dip 0.5 percent in February

WASHINGTON, Mon Mar 26, 2012 – Contracts to purchase previously owned homes unexpectedly fell in February, suggesting a further pullback in sales as the housing market struggles to regain its footing.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in February, slipped 0.5 percent to 96.5, also implying a weak start to the spring selling season.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected signed contracts, which lead existing home sales by a month or two, to advance 1.0 percent after a 2.0 percent rise the prior month. Contracts signed were up 9.2 percent in the 12 months to February.

“This suggests a pretty weak start to the spring selling season. The warm weather in the winter seems to have pulled forward sales,” said Jacob Oubina, a senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

U.S. stocks held steady at higher levels after the data, while Treasury debt prices were lower.

Data last week showed sales of previously owned homes fell in February and the decline in signed contracts suggests home purchases could be weak again in March.

Other reports last week also showed declines in home building activity and new home sales in February. Despite the early signs of fatigue, both economists and realtors remain optimistic the housing market will recover this year.

Existing home sales jump 7.7 percent in August, NAR reports

WASHINGTON ― Existing home sales rose more than expected in August to the fastest annual pace since March as falling prices and low interest rates drew more buyers into the market, the National Association of Realtors said.

Sales climbed 7.7 percent month over month to an annual rate of 5.03 million units, the NAR said on Wednesday. The median price was 5.1 percent lower than a year earlier.

Rising rents are also helping Americans decide to buy homes, the NAR said.

“Favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations,” Lawrence Yun, chief NAR economist, said in a statement.

Yun said the increase in sales came despite some disruptions from Hurricane Irene, which battered much of the East Coast at the end of the month.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales to rise 1.4 percent to a 4.71-million-unit pace. Compared to August 2010, sales were 18.6 percent higher.

The Federal Reserve is expected to hold interest rates near zero following a two-day policy review that concludes on Wednesday, and many expect policymakers will unveil new measures to ease credit further. The Fed’s policy has helped keep mortgage rates historically low.

The NAR’s estimate for the pace of existing home sales during July was unchanged.

July pending home sales fall 1.3 percent from June: NAR

WASHINGTON ― Pending sales of existing U.S. homes fell in July from June in the latest sign of weakness in the housing industry, data from a real estate trade group showed on Monday.

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in July, was down 1.3 percent to 89.7 from 90.9 in June.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to fall 1.3 percent.

In a sign of how much the sector has recovered from a year ago, the index was up 14.4 percent from July of 2010.

The association’s senior economist Lawrence Yun said the latest monthly reading shows sales activity is underperforming but that underlying factors for sales were improving.

He cited rising rents and “record” affordability conditions as factors that could point to future growth.

“It is now a question of lending standards and consumers having the necessary confidence to enter the market,” he said.