Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pending home sales drop 4% in November

The National Association of Realtors just released its report on November pending home sales. Here's what the figures showed:

* Pending home sales fell 4% in November. That was worse than the 1% decline that economists were expecting. September's reading was also revised much lower: To -4.2% from the previously reported -0.7%.

* The pending home sales index, at 82.3, was down 5.3% from its year-earlier reading of 86.9. This is a fresh record low for the indicator, which was introduced in 2001.

* Geographically, pendings dropped around the country -- by 2.2% in the South, 2.4% in the West, 6.7% in the Midwest, and 7.2% in the Northeast.

The housing market stayed on its back in November, with pending sales of existing homes falling to the lowest level on record and weakness popping up in every region of the country. Recession, rising unemployment, slumping consumer confidence, and tighter lending standards are all weighing on sales.

Falling mortgage rates in December and early January may help mitigate some of the near term downside. Additional housing stimulus out of Washington could help as well. But a longer-term recovery for housing still remains in the realm of hope rather than reality.


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