The National Association of Realtors (NAR) this morning released its data on pending home sales in September. The index rose from 99.2 t0 99.5, and is 14.5% higher than in September 2011 when the index reading was 86.9. The index reflects signed contracts, not sales closings. An index reading of 100 equals the average level of contract signings during 2001.
The NAR’s chief economist noted:
Home contract activity remains at an elevated level in contrast with recent years, but currently appears to be bouncing around in a narrow range. This means only minor movement is likely in near-term existing-home sales, but with positive underlying market fundamentals they should continue on an uptrend in 2013.
Every region of the country except the West is experiencing double-digit increases in contract signings. The West region is being constrained by an inventory shortage. Pending sales in the South are the highest, at 111.5, up 17.6% compared with last September. The reading in the West is 106.9, only 0.8% higher than a year ago.
The NAR projects existing home sales to rise 9% in 2012 and another 9% in 2013, while home prices rise by 6% in 2012 and 5% in 2013.