Pending home sales rose 3.2 percent in March, the National Association of REALTORS announced today. NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index tracks home sale contracts that buyers sign.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said it should take a few months for the market to gain momentum. “This increase could be the leading edge of first-time buyers responding to very favorable affordability conditions and an $8,000 tax credit, which increases buying power even more in areas where special programs allow buyers to use it as a downpayment,” he said. “We need several months of sustained growth to demonstrate a recovery in housing, which is necessary for the overall economy to turn around.”
Here’s the Pending Home Sales breakdown by region:
* South 8.5 percent increase from February 2009
* West 3.9 percent increase
* Northeast 5.7 percent decline
* Midwest 1.0 percent decline
Housing affordability has also improved, which means you may be able to get more for your money.
NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said the increase in buying power is quite remarkable. “Compared to a year ago, the typical family can pay much less in mortgage costs for the same home, or buy a better home without necessarily increasing their monthly payment,” he said. “For buyers who’ve been on the sidelines and have good jobs, the market has never looked more favorable…the advantages in today’s market are unique.”
A median-income family, earning $61,100, could afford a home costing $291,600 in March with a 20 percent down payment, assuming 25 percent of gross income is devoted to mortgage principal and interest. Affordability conditions for first-time buyers with the same income and small downpayments are roughly 80 percent of that amount. The affordable price was notably higher than the median existing single-family home price in March, which was $174,900.
May 4, 2009