From Crain’s NY:
The number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes rose more than forecast in January, indicating the industry that triggered the last recession is improving.
The index of pending home resales climbed 2% after a 1.9% decrease the prior month that was smaller than previously estimated, the National Association of Realtors said Monday in Washington. The median forecast of 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 1% rise.
Buyers are returning to the market on the heels of faster job gains for three straight months, falling home prices and record low borrowing costs. At the same time, foreclosures are weighing on property values and construction, slowing the housing recovery.
“Affordability is keeping the market afloat,” Sean Incremona, a senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York, said before the report. “We’ve seen a bottom for home sales. There’s a gradual upward trend in demand.”
Sales were projected to rise after an originally reported drop of 3.5% in December, according to the Bloomberg survey. January estimates ranged from a drop of 1.7% to an increase of 3.3%.
Compared with a year earlier, January pending home sales climbed 10.3%.
Two of four regions saw an increase in pending home sales, Monday’s report showed. That included a 7.6% gain in the Northeast and a 7.7% increase in the South. Pending purchases dropped in the West and Midwest.