Economic slump weakens US pending home sales

After holding fairly stable for a year, US pending home sales declined in the face of job losses and an eroding economy, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in November, fell 4 percent to 82,3 from a downwardly revised reading of 85,7 in October, and is 5,3 percent below November 2007 when it was 86,9. The current index is the lowest since the series began in 2001.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said a weakening was inevitable. “Mounting job losses and very weak consumer confidence deterred home buyers from signing contracts in November,” he said. “December’s housing market activity could be comparably lower due to ongoing problems in the economy, so a real estate-focused stimulus plan is urgently needed.”

Yun said the outlook will depend heavily on the stimulus package. “With a proper real-estate focused stimulus measure, home sales could rise more than expected, by more than 10 percent to 5,5 million in 2009, and easily begin to stabilise home prices in many parts of the country. Stable home prices will, in turn, lessen foreclosure pressures and lay the foundations for a solid economic recovery as the nation’s 75 million homeowners regain confidence,” he said.
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