Economy Watch: Pending Home Sales, Fannie Mae Delinquencies

The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index was up 0.8 percent in November month over month. Fannie Mae's Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate rose 0.01 percent in November month over month.

The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index — a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings — was up 0.8 percent to 104.8 in November from 104.0 in October, according to the organization on Wednesday. The index is now 4.1 percent above November 2013 (100.7), posting the highest year-over-year gain since August 2013 (5.6 percent).

When fully tabulated, the NAR expects that total existing-homes sales will be about 4.94 million units in 2014, according to NAR, a decline of 3 percent from 2013 (5.09 million). But the organization also predicts that sales will rise to 5.3 million units in 2015.

The Realtors report that the national median existing home price for all of 2014 will be close to $208,000, up 5.6 percent from 2013. As for 2015, NAR forecasts that price rises will be at a more moderate pace than in 2014, somewhere between 4 percent and 5 percent. Existing home prices rose 11.4 percent in 2013.

Fannie Mae Delinquencies Edge Down

Fannie Mae reported on Wednesday that its Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate came in at 1.91 percent in November, a small drop from 1.92 percent in October. Still, that’s the lowest level since October 2008, and a year-over-year drop of 2.44 percent. The GSE’s serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010, which it came in at 5.59 percent.

Earlier this week, Freddie Mac reported that its Single-Family serious delinquency rate didn’t move in November, staying at 1.91 percent. On the other hand, Freddie’s rate dropped from 2.43 percent in November 2013, and is at its lowest level since December 2008. The GSE’s serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 4.2 percent.

Both companies define “serious delinquencies” as mortgages that are “three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure.” Both rates are now much lower than during the worst of the recession, but a “normal” rate – during the non-recessionary years before the recession – is about 1 percent.

Wall Street ended 2014 on a down note on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off 160 points exactly, or 0.89 percent. The S&P 500 lost 1.03 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 0.87 percent.