Pending home sales declined in December 2012, but nonetheless remained above year-ago levels for 20 consecutive months, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
NAR's pending home sales index (PHSI) fell 4.3% to 101.7 in December from 106.3 in November, but is 6.9% higher than December 2011, when it was 95.1.
The PHSI in the Northeast fell 5.4% to 78.8 in December, but is 8.4% higher than December 2011. In the Midwest, the index rose 0.9% to 104.8 in December and is 14.4% above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South declined 4.5% to an index of 111.5 in December, but are 10.1% higher than December 2011. In the West, the index fell 8.2% in December to 101.0 and is 5.3% below a year ago.
‘The supply limitation appears to be the main factor holding back contract signings in the past month,’ says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. ‘Still, contract activity has risen for 20 straight months on a year-over-year basis. Buyer interest remains solid, as evidenced by a separate Realtor survey, which shows that buyer foot traffic is easily outpacing seller traffic.’
Yun expects existing-home sales to increase another 9% in 2013, following a 9% rise in 2012.