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Pending home sales drop as expected

July 1, 2010

WASHINGTON – July 1, 2010 – Following a surge driven by the homebuyer tax credit, pending home sales fell, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). To qualify for the credit, homebuyers needed a signed contract by April 30, 2010.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator, dropped 30.0 percent to 77.6 based on contracts signed in May from a reading of 110.9 in April, and is 15.9 percent below May 2009 when it was 92.3. The falloff comes on the heels of three strong monthly gains as homebuyers rushed to take advantage of the tax credit.

The data reflects contracts and not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months. However, many closings have been delayed recently from a rush of buyers into the system and slow processing of short sales, in addition to the heavy volume and a more thorough loan underwriting process.

“Consumers are rational and they rushed to meet the (April 30) tax credit eligibility deadline in April,” says NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “The sharp decline in contract signings in May is a natural result with similar low levels of sales activity anticipated in June. Surprisingly, though, some local markets such as Portland, Maine, and Jacksonville, Fla., actually experienced an increase in contract signings from a year ago without the tax credit.

“Existing-home sales that close in June will remain elevated, but we’ll then see a notable decline for July and August.” Read more

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