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NAR: Pending home sales a tiny bit higher in Oct.

WASHINGTON – Nov. 30, 2016 – Pending home sales were almost flat in October, though they still squeaked out a meager gain for the second consecutive month, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched up 0.1 percent to 110.0 in October from a slight downward revision of 109.9 in September. With last month’s small increase, the index is now 1.8 percent higher year-to-year. Last October it was 108.1.
Still, pending sales hit their highest level since July.
“Most of the country last month saw at least a small increase in contract signings and, more notably, activity in all four major regions is up from a year ago,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Despite limited listings and steadfast price growth that’s now carried into the fall, buyer demand has remained strong because of consistently reliable job creation in a majority of metro areas.”
In relation to housing supply – which has been grossly inadequate all year – Yun says that the unwelcoming but expected seasonal retreat in new listings is now arriving at a time when price growth remains around triple the pace of wages, and properties continue to sell at a much faster pace than a year ago: 40 percent of October’s sales were at or above list price, an increase from 33 percent last October.
“Many of the successful shoppers in October likely had to move fast and outbid others for the few listings available in the affordable price range,” says Yun. “Those obtaining a mortgage last month were likely the last group of buyers to lock in a rate near historically low levels now that rates have marched to around 4 percent since the election.”
With contract activity holding steady, Yun expects existing sales to close out 2016 at a pace of around 5.36 million, which surpasses 2015 (5.25 million) and is the highest since number since 2006 (6.48 million).
“Low supply has kept prices elevated all year and has put pressure on the budgets of buyers,” says Yun. “With mortgage rates expected to rise into next year and put added strain on affordability, sales expansion will be contingent on more inventory coming onto the market and continued job gains.”
The PHSI in the Northeast nudged 0.4 percent higher to 96.9 in October – 3.9 percent higher year-to-year. In the Midwest, the index rose 1.6 percent to 106.3 in October, and it’s now 1.2 percent higher than October 2015.
Pending home sales in the South declined 1.3 percent to an index of 120.1 in October but they’re still 0.8 percent higher than last October. The index in the West climbed 0.7 percent in October to 108.3 – 2.5 percent higher year-to-year.
© 2016 Florida Realtors®
Source: Florida Realtors Feed

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