Consistent with calls of a housing rebound, the Pending Home Sales Index rose again in August. It marks the second straight month of improvement after May's post-tax credit drop-off.
A "pending home" is an existing home under contract to sell, but not yet closed.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 4 out of 5 pending homes close within 60 days, and many more close within 90 days. For this reason, the Pending Home Sales Index is an excellent forward-indicator for housing.
As a real-life illustration, after July's 27% plunge to an 11-year low, Existing Home Sales recovered 8 percent in August. This was not a surprise, though, because July's Pending Home Sales Index predicted it.
Region-by-region, the Pending Home Sales Index varied in August, suggesting better sales levels in the South and West markets:
- Northeast : -2.9% from July
- Midwest : +2.1% from July
- South : +6.7% from July
- West : + 6.4% from July
That said, real estate markets aren't "regional" -- they're local. Just as there are improving markets within the Northeast Region, there's worsening markets in the West. And cities like Atlanta have their own market traits, too.
Overall, buyers are being drawn into housing by low mortgage rates, affordable homes, and ample supply. If the August Pending Home Sales Index is foreshadowing the fall housing market, home prices appear slated to rise.