WASHINGTON (3/2/15)--Pending-home sales recorded solid gains in January after December's step back, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, the NAR pending-home sales index climbed 1.7% to 104.2 during the month, putting sales 8.4% ahead of last year's pace (Economy.com Feb. 27).
Pending-home sales are a leading indicator for the housing market, and precede changes in existing-home sales by one to two months, said Brent Campbell, Moody's analyst (Economy.com).
"Contract activity is convincingly up compared to a year ago despite comparable inventory levels," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "The difference this year is the positive factors supporting stronger sales, such as slightly improving credit conditions, more jobs and slower price growth."
Gains were uneven by region, as pending sales climbed in the South and West by 3.2% and 2.2% respectively, while the snow-swept Northeast and Midwest recorded a 0.1% gain and a 0.7% retreat respectively.
On an annual basis, pending-home sales jumped 11.4% in the West, 9.7% in the South, 6.9% in the Northeast and 4.2% in the Midwest.
"All indications point to modest sales gains as we head into the spring buying season," Yun said. "However, the pace will greatly depend on how much upward pressure the impact of low inventory will have on home prices."