After reaching a 19-month high, pending home sales eased in December but stayed above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
NAR's Pending Home Sale Index (PHSI) declined 3.5% to 96.6 in December from 100.1 in November; it is 5.6% above the December 2010 level, when it was 91.5.Â
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 3.1% to 74.7 in December and is 0.8% below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index rose 4% to 95.3 and is 13.3% higher than inDecember 2010. Pending home sales in the South slipped 2.6% to an index of 101.1 in December, but are 4.9% above a year ago. In the West, the index fell 11% in December to 107.9, but is 3.7% higher than in December 2010.
‘Even with a modest decline, the preceding two months of contract activity are the highest in the past four years outside of the homebuyer tax credit period,’ says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. ‘Contract failures remain an issue, reported by one-third of Realtors over the past few months, but home buyers are not giving up.’