Here’s Why Pending Home Sales Continue to Increase

According to the National Association of Realtors, The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, rose 2.1 percent to 90.8, based on contracts signed in February, from 88.9 in January. The index is 8.2 percent below 98.9 recorded in February 2010. The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

The news hasn’t done much for real estate stocks (NYSE:IYR) or home builders (NYSE:XHB).

The PHSI in the Northeast fell 10.9 percent to 65.5 in February and is 18.4 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index rose 4.0 percent in February to 81.1 but is 15.9 percent below February 2010. Pending home sales in the South increased 2.7 percent to an index of 100.3 but are 5.3 percent below a year ago. In the West the index rose 7.0 percent to 105.6 and is 0.6 percent higher than February 2010.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says it’s important to look at the broader trend. “Month-to-month movements can be instructive, but in this uneven recovery it’s important to look at the longer term performance,” he said. “Pending home sales have trended up very nicely since bottoming out last June, even with periodic monthly declines. Contract activity is now 20 percent above the low point immediately following expiration of the home buyer tax credit.”