Pending home sales down slightly in October

Pending home sales eased against a deteriorating economic backdrop but remain in a stable range, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in October, slipped 0.7 percent to 88.9 from an upwardly revised reading of 89.5 in September, according to the National Association of Realtors. The figure released Tuesday is 1.0 percent below the year ago figure of 89.8.

“Despite the turmoil in the economy, the overall level of pending home sales has been remarkably stable over the past year, holding in a generally narrow range,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “We did see a spike in August when mortgage conditions temporarily improved, which underscores two things – there is a pent-up demand, and access to safe, affordable mortgages will bring more buyers into the market.”

Conditions remain uneven around the country, but some areas that are showing gains in pending home sales from a year ago include many Florida and California markets, Providence, R.I.; Lansing, Mich.; Oklahoma City; and Las Vegas.

NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said he’s hopeful about considerations by the U.S. Treasury. “Efforts to bring down mortgage interest rates demonstrate a clear understanding of the role housing plays in stabilizing the economy,” McMillan said. “We’re very encouraged by all of the proposals getting serious consideration in Washington to help home buyers. More sales will stabilize home prices by bringing down inventory, and would lessen foreclosure pressure.”