The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in October, slipped 0.7 percent from the previous month and is 1.0 percent below the index recorded in October 2007, according to NAR’s latest monthly forecast.
Pending sales showed mixed results in the four regions of the country.
• In the South, the index rose 7.8 percent in October, but was 2.9 percent below a year ago.
• In the Northeast, the index rose 0.6 percent, but is 14.1 percent below October 2007.
• In the Midwest, the pending sales index fell 4.3 percent in October and is 6.8 percent below a year ago.
• In the West, the index declined 8.7 percent but is 17.4 percent higher than October 2007.
NAR also reports that existing-home sales are forecast to total 4.96 million units this year, a 12.2 percent decline from the 5.65 million existing units sold last year. Sales are projected to increase to 5.19 million in 2009 and 5.55 million in 2010. New-home sales for 2008 are projected to total 486,000, decline to 393,000 in 2009 and then grow to 446,000 in 2010. Housing starts, including multifamily units, are projected to reach 934,000 units in 2008, 731,000 next year and 772,000 in 2010.
NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun, says access to safe, affordable mortgages will help attract more buyers. “Given the critical role of housing in an economic recovery, we’re confident sufficient stimulus will be offered to bring more buyers to the market,” Yun says.