Economy Watch: Pending Home Sales Edge Up

Positive signals for the single-family market emerge from both The NAR, which reports that pending home sales inched up during November, and Lender Processing Services, which reveals that U.S. home prices increased 0.8 percent year-over-year as of October.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday that its pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed but not closed, inched up to 101.7 in November from a downwardly revised 101.5 in October. Year-over-year, pending sales has lost a little ground. In November 2012, the index came in at 103.3.

NAR also predicts that total existing-home sales this year will reach 5.1 million units, a gain of almost 10 percent over 2012. That total should stay at that level in 2014, according to the organization, and then rise to 5.3 million units in 2015. The national median existing-home price for all of this year will be close to $197,300, up nearly 12 percent from 2012, but is projected to rise at a more moderate pace of 5 percent to 5.5 percent in 2014, and grow another 4 percent in 2015.

“We may have reached a cyclical low because the positive fundamentals of job creation and household formation are likely to foster a fairly stable level of contract activity in 2014,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted in a statement. “Although the final months of 2013 are finishing on a soft note, the year as a whole will end with the best sales total in seven years.”

LPS: Home Prices Rise Slowly in October

Ahead of Case-Shiller’s October home price indexes, which will be released on Tuesday, Lender Processing Services reported on Monday that its index for U.S. home prices increased 0.1 percent in October, and 8.8 percent year-over-year. The LPS index combines the company’s property and loan-level databases to produce an analysis of home prices for each of more than 18,500 U.S. zip codes.

Metro Boston gained the most in October among the 40 largest MSAs, experiencing a 0.9 percent rise in home prices; metro Spokane lost the most ground, with home prices down 0.7 percent. Prices were up in New York by 0.6 percent, while metro Chicago saw an increase of 0.3 percent. The Dallas and LA metro markets experienced price drops of 0.1 percent, and Washington, D.C. was down 0.2 percent for the month, according to the LPS.

Among the states, Rhode Island experienced the largest increase, gaining 0.8 percent, followed by Massachusetts, Georgia, and New York, all up 0.7 percent.

Oklahoma was down 0.4 percent, and Washington state, Tennessee, and New Mexico saw home-price drops of 0.3 percent, the company reported.

Wall Street ended Monday mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by a smallish 25.88 points, or 0.16 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, by contrast, lost a slight 0.02 percent and 0.06 percent, respectively.