Home sales index hits two-year high

The nation seems to have finally caught what Southwest Florida has been enjoying for the last few months: people getting off the fence and signing home sales contracts.

An index that tracks the number of so-called “pending sales” rose to its highest level in nearly two years last month, the latest sign the battered housing market is slowly improving.

Pending sales — a leading indicator of properties that have gone under contract but not yet sold — numbered 1,191 in the territory covered by the Sarasota Association of Realtors, a 12-month high.

In Manatee County, pending sales for homes were up 29 percent from a year ago and up 18.5 percent for condominiums.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its index of sales agreements increased 4.1 percent during March to a reading of 101.4. That is the highest since April 2010, when buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit. A reading of 100 is considered healthy.

Contract signings typically indicate where the housing market is headed. There is a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed deal.

The figures “bode well for existing home sales over the next couple of months,” said Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank. “We believe housing has now entered recovery.”
Read full article: Sarasota Herald Tribune