Today, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Pending Home Sales Report for December showing continued improvement with the seasonally adjusted national index increasing 2.0% since November but remaining 4.2% below the level seen in December 2009.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the national index declined 19.8% since November and remained 3.6% below the level seen in December 2009.
Meanwhile, the NARs chief economist Lawrence Yun appears to be smartening up and portraying the situation for housing with a bit more of a realistic outlook.
"The latest pending sales gain suggests activity is very close to a sustainable, healthy volume of a mid-5 million total annual home sales. However, sales above 6 million, as occurred during the bubble years, is highly unlikely this year."
Frankly, the mere fact the the NAR now commonly refers to the period before 2006 as the "bubble years" is a notable improvement from the epic level of propaganda they were spinning during the worst of this ongoing housing decline.
Make no mistake, housing still has a long way to go... double dipping prices, shadow inventory, years more of foreclosures, red tapped up foreclosure process... the market clearing mechanisms are functioning but this process will take some time to reach a discernible resolution.
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).