Pending home sales rebounding

Number of signed sales contracts continues bounce off record lows for third consecutive month.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Les Christie CNNMoney.com staff writer

301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


nginx
Are you open to the idea of buying a GM vehicle in the future?
  • Yes, if the quality improves
  • Yes, it's an American company
  • No, I'm happy with what I drive
  • No, they've lost me forever
Mortgage Rates
30 yr fixed 3.96%
15 yr fixed 3.07%
5/1 ARM 3.20%
30 yr refi 3.96%
15 yr refi 3.08%

Find personalized rates:
 

Rates provided by Bankrate.com.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of home sales contracts signed in April continued to bounce back from record lows hit last winter, according to a widely watched industry report. This is the third consecutive month of gains.

The Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors rose 6.7% in April after jumping 3.2% in March. That was far above the forecasts of experts surveyed by Briefing.com, who predicted a 0.5% increase. The index was 3.3% higher than 12 months earlier.

Pending home sales are a forward-looking indicator since many of the contracts don't result in completed deals for many weeks or months.

"Housing affordability conditions have been at historic highs, but now the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit is beginning to impact the market," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist in a prepared statement. "Since first-time buyers must finalize their purchase by Nov. 30 to get the credit, we expect greater activity in the months ahead, and that should spark more sales by repeat buyers."

The credit allows many homebuyers who have not owned a home in the past three years to claim up to an $8,000 refund on their taxes. The result has been a flood of first-time homebuyers even into lukewarm markets like Indianapolis, according to Glenn Bill, an agent there for Century 21 Sheetz.

"Our first-time homebuyer market is exploding," he said. "That's one good thing to come out of the stimulus package."

Low prices

Also driving sales is falling home prices. The national median home price is down more than 30%, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. That has drawn many bargain-hunting homebuyers back into the market.

Mortgage rates in April were also very favorable, averaging well under 5% for a 30-year, fixed-rate loan. However, rates have risen recently.

All those factors have raised NAR's index of affordability to near record highs. It went up to 174.8 in April from an upwardly revised 171.9 in March, its second highest monthly reading ever. This index measures the relationship between home prices, mortgage interest rates and family income.

Regionally, the biggest improvement in home sales came in the Northeast, where they shot up 32.6%. Sales ramped up 9.8% in the Midwest, inched up 1.8% in the West and cooled 0.2% in the South.

Also boosting sales, according to NAR president Charles McMillan, a Coldwell Banker broker in Dallas, is that some states and non-profit agencies are helping first-time homebuyers come up with down payments.

"Some states are offering bridge loans that allow first-time buyers to use the tax credit for down payment and closing costs, but there are many other local government and nonprofit programs available to buyers, depending on location," he said.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last week an additional program that enables homebuyers to add the tax credit to their down payments on FHA mortgages at closing, which should also help to enhance affordability and give a push to home sales. To top of page

Find mortgage rates in your area


Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
5 ways retailers are tracking you If you think pesky salespeople are invading your personal space, check out these 5 technologies that are tracking your movements throughout a store. More
Moto X vs. Droid Turbo: Which Droid should you buy? Motorola has made the two best Android smartphones this year. Here's how they stack up. More
My part-time job is a dead end, but it's all I can find CNNMoney profiles 4 of America's 7 million part-time workers unable to find full-time jobs. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.