Pending Home Sales Improve for First Time Since May

The Pending Home Sales Index edged up 0.2% to 101.7 for November, according to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) report released today, the first increase since May.

After dropping a revised 1.2% for October, analysts had expected a significantly larger 1.5% gain. But despite the lackluster results, this uptick was a welcome respite from five consecutive months of declines.

Compared to November 2012, pending home sales are down 1.6%.

US Pending Home Sales Index Chart

US Pending Home Sales Index data by YCharts

The index is based on contract signings (with sales usually finalized one or two months later) and is benchmarked to 2001 contract activity. (An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year the association examined data).

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that things are looking up for next year. "We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014," Yun said in a statement today. "Although the final months of 2013 are finishing on a soft note, the year as a whole will end with the best sales total in seven years."

The national median existing-home price for all of 2013 is expected to be $197,300, according to the NAR, up nearly 12% from 2012. Looking ahead, the NAR expects the median existing-home price to increase 5% to 5.5% for 2014, while existing-home sales are expected to stay flat at 5.1 million. The 5.1 million for this year is a gain of almost 10% over 2012.

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