by Peter Grist
Pending homes sales made a modest gain in June, with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealing a 2.4% increase in the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI). This comes after a volatile period, with a sharp decline in April followed by a solid bounce back in May. However, overall the index has moved sideways in 2011, showing a slight decline since December 2010. The lack of progress is a reflection of the soft economy and weak employment growth in recent months.
Results across the regions were mixed with gains in the West (6.4%) and South (4.4%) offsetting declines in the Northeast (-0.4%) and the Midwest (-3.7%).
Relative to a year ago, the PHSI is up 19.8% with solid growth in all regions. The Midwest is up 26.4%, the South 19.1%, the West 16.4% and the Northeast 19.4%. However, this comparison is of little substance given that June 2010 was artificially low as the market dealt with the payback from the home buyer tax credit.
The NAR maintain a positive outlook, noting in the release that “…. the two consecutive months of rising activity should lead to overall improvement in closed sales in upcoming months ….” In addition, they indicate “… existing home sales this year are expected to total 5.0 million, slightly higher than 2010.”