The National Association of Realtors (NAR) this morning released its data on pending home sales in November. The index rose 1.7% from a downwardly revised 104.6 in October to 106.4, and it is 9.8% higher than in November 2011 when the index reading was 96.9. The consensus estimate called for an increase of 1.8%. 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:
Even with market frictions related to the mortgage process, home contract activity continues to improve. Home sales are recovering now based solely on fundamental demand and favorable affordability conditions.
Pending sales rose most in the Northeast — up 5.2% compared with October. In the Midwest sales improved just 0.1% from October, and sales in the South were unchanged. The Midwest and Northeast regions are both up 15.2% year-over-year, and the South is up 13.9%.
The West region continues to be constrained by an inventory shortage. Pending sales rose 4.2% from October but are 3.2% below sales in October 2011.
The NAR noted that pending home sales are at their highest level since April 2010.