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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has reported a 1.3% decline in pending home sales in July, as measured by signed contracts for the sale of existing homes. All regions show monthly declines except for the West, which continues to show the highest level of sales contract activity.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) for July 2011 did rise above last July’s number by 14.4%, however.
The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20% of transactions for existing-home sales, according to the NAR. The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.0% to 67.5 in July but is 9.7% above July 2010. In the Midwest, the index slipped 0.8% to 79.1 in July but is 18.8% above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South fell 4.8% to an index of 94.4 but are 9.5% higher than July 2010. In the West, the index rose 3.6% to 110.8 in July and is 20.6% above a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales activity is underperforming. "The market can easily move into a healthy expansion if mortgage underwriting standards return to normalcy," he said. "We also need to be mindful that not all sales contracts are leading to closed existing-home sales. Other market frictions need to be addressed, such as assuring that proper comparables are used in appraisal valuations and streamlining the short sales process."