Pending home sales rose in February, potentially signaling a second surge of home sales in response to the homebuyer tax credit, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in February, rose 8.2 percent to 97.6 from a downwardly revised 90.2 in January, and remains 17.3 percent above February 2009 when it was 83.2. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which usually occur with a lag time of one or two months.
“The rise in buyer contact activity may signal the early stages of a second surge of home sales this spring. The healthy gain hints home prices are continuing to flatten,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “We need a second surge to meaningfully draw down inventory and definitively stabilize home values.”
The PHSI in the northeast rose 9.0 percent to 77.7 in February and is 18.9 percent higher than February 2009. In the midwest the index jumped 21.8 percent to 97.9 and is 18.7 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the south increased 9.2 percent to an index of 107.0, and the index is 17.5 percent higher than February 2009. In the West the index fell 4.8 percent to 98.0 but is 14.6 percent above a year ago.
“Anecdotally, we’re hearing about a rise of activity in recent weeks with ongoing reports of multiple offers in more markets, so the March data could demonstrate additional improvement from buyers responding to the tax credit,” Yun said.
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