Pending home sales retreated after two monthly gains, signaling an uneven recovery entering 2011 with some near-term disruptions from the foreclosure moratorium, according to the National Association of Realtors
The index slipped 1.8 percent to 80.9 based on contracts signed in September from an upwardly revised 82.4 in August. However, the index remains 24.9 percent below a surge to 107.8 in September 2009 when first-time buyers were jumping into the market to take advantage of the initial deadline for the tax credit last November.
The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.
“Existing-home sales have shown some improvement but the foreclosure moratorium is likely to cause some disruption and contribute to an uneven sales performance in the months ahead,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Nonetheless, there appears to be a pent-up demand that eventually will be unleashed as banks resolve their issues with foreclosures and the labor market improves. However, tight credit and appraisals coming in below a negotiated price continue to constrain the market.”
The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 1.7 percent to 59.6 in September and is 28.3 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 5.7 percent in September to 64.2 and remains 33.0 percent below September 2009. Pending home sales in the South declined 3.5 percent to an index of 87.6 and are 19.1 percent below a year ago. In the West the index rose 3.5 percent to 104.6 but is 24.7 percent below September 2009.