Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pending Home Sales: January 2010

Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Pending Home Sales Report for January showing a significant 7.6% decline since December 2009 as buying activity continued to slow from the housing tax gimmick inspired mad-rush seen in October yet the level remained 12.3% higher than seen in January 2009, a notable increase.

Meanwhile, the NARs chief economist Lawrence Yun suggests the weakness is likely as a result of severe weather and not simply over-indebted "buyer" fatigue:

"January pending sales, though still higher than one year ago, remain much lower than expected given that a large number of potential buyers are eligible for the expanded home buyer tax credit. Moreover, the abnormally severe and prolonged winter weather, which affected large regions of the U.S., hampered shopping activity in February...”

Although Yun "expects" a higher level of sales, his forecasting is coming in the midst of unprecidented government intervention in the nation's housing markets... tax credits, proping of Fannie, Freddie and FHA, mortgage workouts, etc... it will take some time to witness what the true "organic" sales trend is after these measures are eliminated.

The following chart shows the national pending home sales index along with the percent change on a year-over-year basis as well as the percent change from the peak set in 2005 (click for larger version).

Look at the seasonally adjusted pending home sales results:

  • Nationally the index increased 12.3% as compared to January 2010.
  • The Northeast region increased 20.4% as compared to January 2010.
  • The Midwest region increased 11.8% as compared to January 2010.
  • The South region increased 18.1% as compared to January 2010.
  • The West region increased 1.5% as compared to January 2010.