Pending home sales rose 1.5% in September after a “notable” decline the prior month, the National Association of Realtors said in a report on Thursday, beating estimates for a gain of 1%.
Increases in the south and west pushed the index to a reading of 110, up from 107.4 in September 2015, the NAR said. The Pending Home Sales Index fell 1.6% to a 96.5 reading on the northeast and declined 0.2% in the Midwest. The index in the south rose 1.9% to a reading of 122.1 and jumped 4.7% in the west to a reading of 107.3, according to the NAR.
Existing home sales, reported last week, rose to their third-highest monthly level since February 2007 while distressed sales — foreclosures and short sales — dropped to the lowest since the NAR began tracking them in October 2008. Sales of existing homes to first-time buyers reached 34%, the highest share in four years.
“Buyer demand is holding up impressively well this fall with realtors reporting much stronger foot traffic compared to a year ago,” said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the NAR. “Although depressed inventory levels are keeping home prices elevated in most of the country, steady job gains and growing evidence that wages are finally starting to tick up are encouraging more households to consider buying a home.”