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Pending Home Sales Increased in September After August Letdown

Oct. 27, 2016

Pending home sales revived in September after a decrease in August and returned to their fifth highest level over the past year, led by increases in the South and West.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 1.5% to 110.0 in September from the reading in August, which was revised downward to 108.4, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The September gain puts the index 2.4% higher, year-over-year, and has grown year-over-year for 22 of the previous 25 months.

"Buyer demand is holding up impressively well this fall, with [the NAR] reporting much stronger foot traffic compared to a year ago," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Although depressed inventory levels are keeping home prices elevated in most of the country, steady job gains and growing evidence that wages are finally starting to tick up are encouraging more households to consider buying a home."

By region, the PHSI fell 1.6% to a reading of 96.5 in the Northeast in September from August, though the region is up 7.7%, year-over-year, NAR said. The Midwest also saw a slight decline of 0.2% to 104.6, and is now down 1% from September 2015.

Pending home sales in the West led the regional indices, with a 4.7% gain in September to 107.3, and is 4.0% higher than it was in September 2015, NAR said. The South saw pending homes grow 1.9% to 122.1 in September, with year-over-year sales 1.7% higher.

– Nicholas Stern, editorial associate

New House Sales Saw Growth in September

Oct. 26, 2016

Sales of new, single-family houses climbed 3.1% in September at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000, according to the latest data from the U.S. Commerce Department; however, the gains were tempered by downward revisions by Commerce that show sales over the past three months were 85,000 less than previously reported, noted Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo.

Sales of new homes increased 2% on a three-month moving average basis at an annual rate of 599,000 units, “…suggesting that despite downward revisions the uptrend in new home sales remains intact,” Vitner said.

By region, sales rose everywhere in the U.S. except in the West, where sales dropped 4.5% during September, though sales in the region were up 32.4% compared with the year prior.

The inventory for new homes stayed low in September, with a 4.8-months’ supply of available homes for sale at the current sales pace, Vitner said. During September, 57,000 new, completed homes were up for sale and 141,000 were being constructed.

– Nicholas Stern, editorial associate

Home Prices Carried On Price Climb in August

Oct. 25, 2016

Home prices continued to rise across the country and were up 5.3%, year-over-year, in August, with Portland, Seattle and Denver reporting the highest yearly gains among 20 cities tracked in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

Portland saw in August an 11.7% gain in house prices from the year prior, followed by Seattle with an 11.4% gain and Denver with an 8.8% bump.

“Supported by continued moderate economic growth, home prices extended recent gains,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “All 20 cities saw prices higher than a year earlier, with 10 enjoying larger annual gains than last month. The seasonally adjusted month-over-month data showed that home prices in 14 cities were higher in August than in July. Other housing data, including sales of existing single-family homes, measures of housing affordability and permits for new construction, also point to a reasonably healthy housing market.”

– Nicholas Stern, editorial associate

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