After a steady stream of depressing housing data, pending homes sales jumped 10.4 percent in October according to the National Association of Realtors.
The Pending Home Sales Index, increased to 89.3 based on contracts signed in October from 80.9 in September. The index remains 20.5 percent below a surge to a cyclical peak of 112.4 in October 2009, which was the highest level since May 2006 when it hit 112.6.
Last October, first-time buyers were motivated to make offers before the initial contract 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.
“It is welcoming to see a solid double-digit percentage gain, but activity needs to improve further to reach healthy, sustainable levels,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The housing market clearly is in a recovery phase and will be uneven at times, but the improving job market and consequential boost to household formation will help the recovery process going into 2011.”
“More importantly, a return to more normal loan underwriting standards and removal of unnecessary underwriting fees for very low risk borrowers is needed and could quickly help in the housing and economic recovery,” Yun said. Recent loan performance data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac clearly demonstrates very low default rates on recently originated mortgages, much lower that the vintages of 2002 and 2003 before the housing boom.
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