Monday, October 02, 2006

Pending-home sales rise 4.3% in August- Market may be stabilizing

Market may be stabilizing, realtors group says...

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Pending sales of U.S. existing homes rose by 4.3% in August, indicating the housing market may be stabilizing, the National Association of Realtors said

Monday. Pending-home sales are down 14.1% in the past year, the real estate industry group said.
"Our sense is that home sales may have reached a low in August," said David Lereah, chief economist for the NAR in a statement.

"With fewer new listings coming on the market, we should be able to draw down the inventory supply early next year to the point where home prices will rise, but at a slower pace than historic norms," Lereah said.

The pending-sales index rose 9.2% in the West, 4% in the South and 3.6% in the Northeast. The index was flat in the Midwest.

Sales are recorded as "pending" when a sales contract is signed; they are recorded as "sold" when the sale closes, usually one or two months later.

Existing-home sales fell 0.5% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.30 million, the lowest since January 2004. Meanwhile, median sales prices fell 1.7% on a year-on-year basis, the first decline in 11 years. The inventory of unsold homes rose to a 7.5-month supply, the most in 13 years.

In other reports released Monday, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing sentiment index fell to 52.9% in September, the lowest since May 2005, signaling slower growth in the factory sector.

The Commerce Department said construction spending rose 0.3% in August despite a 1.5% drop in spending on housing.
By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch