Pending home sales surge 6.1% in September
* Pending home sales surged 6.1% in September. That was much better than the unchanged reading that economists were expecting. It's also the eighth consecutive monthly rise.
* On a year-over-year basis, the pending sales index jumped 21.1% to 110.1 from 90.9. That's the highest index value since December 2006.
* Regionally, pendings were relatively strong. They rose 4.9% in the South, 8.1% in the Midwest, and 10.2% in the West. Sales dropped 2% in the Northeast.
The existing home market continues to heat up, fueled by cheaper house prices and the first-time buyer tax credit. Pending sales have climbed for eight straight months, and contract signings haven't been running this hot in almost three years.
Clearly, buyers were eager to get business done before the credit's November expiration. So I wouldn't be surprised to see some giveback in pending sales over the next month or two. But with Congress set to extend the credit through mid-2010 ... and expand it to a broader pool of potential buyers ... the market should remain fairly well-supported. In other words, the "three steps forward, two steps back" recovery in housing remains on track.