Keeping in step with signs of the U.S. housing market is rising from the bottom, the National Association of Realtors said Friday that pending home sales rose again in November. Pending home sales, contracts to purchases houses that have not yet closed, have now risen for three consecutive months and reached the highest level since April 2010.
The November reading of the NAR’s Pending Home Sale Index registered a 106.4, following a downwardly revised 5 percent climb to 104.6 in October. In April 2010, the index was at 111.3, pushed by buyers scurrying to use a home-buyer tax credit before it expired at the end of the month.
The 1.7 percent increase in November topped economist predictions of a 1.0 percent climb.
Year-over-year, pending home sales in November were up nearly 10 percent compared to November 2011. It was the nineteenth straight month of monthly readings topping the year prior.
Pending sales were up in three of the four regions of the index with only the South having a flat month.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department said that new home sales in November soared to the highest levels since April 2010 with a 4.4 percent climb to an annual rate of 377,000. On a yearly basis, sales were 15.3 percent higher than in November 2011. Economists are attributing the rise in sales in new homes to dwindling inventories and growing demand from consumers that have put-off buying a new home until the markets appeared to find a bottom since crashing in 2007.
The average price of a home rose 3.7 percent to $246,200 in November from $237,500 in October to cap a 14.9 percent increase in the last year.
The housing market recovering did little for consumer confidence as worries about the fiscal cliff weighed heavily on the population, according to the Conference Board on Thursday. The agency said that its consumer confidence index sunk to 65.1 in December from 71.5 in November, marking the lowest reading since August.
The fiscal cliff, a series of spending cuts and tax hikes that will go into effect on January 1 unless lawmakers in Washington can agree to a new budget, is dominating market sentiment as the deadline nears. In morning trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Index is down 90 points, the S&P 500 is off by 10 points and the Nasdaq is lower by 15 points.