NAR: Housing market has ‘turned the corner’

BY INMAN NEWS, THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2012.

Pending sales of existing homes rose to their highest level in nearly two years in March, according to the National Association of Realtors’ latest¬†Pending Home Sales Index.

The index, which represents contracts signed but not yet closed, jumped a seasonally adjusted 4.1 percent from February to March, to 101.4. That’s the highest index level since April 2010, when the deadline for a federal homebuyer tax credit program loomed. The index was 111.3 then.

Pending sales were up 10.8 percent from the same time a year ago on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

An index score of 100 is equal to the average level of sales contract activity in 2001, a robust year for home sales and the first year examined by the trade group. The index typically represents about 20 percent of all existing-home transactions. Contracts signed in March typically close one or two months later.

“First-quarter sales closings were the highest first-quarter sales in five years. The latest contract signing activity suggests the second quarter will be equally good,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in a statement.

“The housing market has clearly turned the corner,” Yun said. “Rising sales are bringing down inventory and creating much more balanced conditions around the county, which means home prices will be rising in more areas as the year progresses.”