Pending Home Sales Spike Unexpectedly

Pending home sales unexpected escalated in February by 8.2 percent compared with January, according to the National Association of Realtors on Monday.

April 6, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user NatalieMaynor

Pending home sales unexpected escalated in February by 8.2 percent compared with January, according to the National Association of Realtors on Monday. Or maybe not so unexpectedly, considering how hard the industry has been urging buyers to get off the fence and buy before the expiration of the federal home buying tax credits at the end of this month.

The Midwest, which had a cold but not especially dramatic winter this year, saw the biggest jump in pending sales, up 22 percent month-over-month. The South and Northeast saw increases of about 9 percent each, while the West experienced a 5 percent decline.

The ever-cheerful NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the sap might nevertheless be rising in the home selling business, despite the demise of the tax credit. “The rise in buyer contact activity may signal the early stages of a second surge of home sales this spring,” he said in a statement. “The healthy gain hints home prices are continuing to flatten.”

CRE Values Rise Too: Green Street

The Green Street Advisors Commercial Property Index rose 2 percent in March compared with the previous month, though transaction volumes remain low, according to the real estate consultancy. Still, investment sales that have closed recently, or which are about to close, are continuing to “surprise on the high side,” according to the report.

“Pricing has been firming since the middle of ’09, especially in the last six months,” Mike Kirby, the firm’s director of research, noted in a statement. “Sellers are feeling less pressure to act; the outlook for fundamentals has become clearer; well-capitalized buyers are becoming plentiful; and return requirements across capital markets have come down.”

The index, which now stands at 70.4, is roughly down to the same level as mid-2004. For the purposes of the index, the peak of valuation of 100 came in late 2007. A trough of 61.7 was recorded in mid-2009.

Greenspan Sees Momentum

Alan Greenspan says the economy has the big mo–momentum, that is–when asked by ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “There is a momentum building up which is really just beginning, and it’s got a way to go,” said the boom-time chairman of the Fed, referring specifically to the jobs created in March.

He was big on momentum, in fact, adding that, “I doubt very much that we’re going to run out of that momentum until very late in the year.”

Wall Street may have taken Greenspan’s words to heart, since it wasn’t so long ago that investors reacted in a Pavlovian way to anything the former chairman said. Old habits die hard, recession or not. In any case, the Street had another up day on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average coming within shouting distance of 11,000–a level it hasn’t seen since around the time Lehman Brothers broke bad–but not quite reaching the milestone, despite being up 46.48 points, or 0.43 percent. The S&P 500 gained 0.79 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 1.12 percent.