The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in July, increased 3.2 percent from the previous month and was 12.0 percent higher than July 2008, NAR reports. The index now has risen for six straight months and has reached the highest level since June 2007.
In the Northeast, the Pending Home Sales Index fell 3.0 percent in July, but was 4.7 percent higher than a year ago. It also slipped in the Midwest 2.0 percent but was 8.1 percent higher than July 2008. In the South, pending sales activity rose 3.1 percent during the month and was 12.0 percent above a year ago. In the West, the index jumped 12.1 percent and was 20.0 percent higher than a year ago.
The $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit appears to be boosting home sales. NAR estimates that 1.8 to 2.0 million first-time buyers will take advantage of the credit before it expires on Nov. 30, accounting for 350,000 sales that would not have taken place without the program.
NAR’s Housing Affordability Index remained unchanged since last month but is still 36 percent higher than a year ago.