Interest Rate Roundup

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pending home sales climb in July

We just got the latest pending home sales figures from the National Association of Realtors. They showed that in July, pending sales rose 5.2%. That compared with forecasts for a 1 percent decline, but it still leaves sales down 19.1% from year-ago levels. By region, sales were up 6.3% in the Northeast, 4.1% in the Midwest, 1.2% in the South, and 11.6% in the West.

File this report in the "At least things didn't get worse!" category. We saw a small bounce in pending home sales after two dismal months, with the index rising for the first time since April. The gains were geographically diverse, with the West showing the biggest rise. It appears the used home market cannibalized some sales from the builder market, given the fact new home sales plunged in July.

Bottom line: The news isn't terrible. But it's not great either, especially when you consider that mortgage rates are the lowest in recorded history. We should be seeing more sales with financing so cheap. The fact we're not speaks to the severity of the jobs crisis and the ongoing lack of confidence in the future direction of home prices.


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