Pending sales rose 10.1% in October. The Index is 5% below the level of November 2009.
The results indicate a housing market that is improving, but slowly. Not all regions of the country experienced November's gains. The South was down slightly, while the Midwest experienced a larger decline. The Northwest showed a small increase. Pending sales in the West grew the most.
NAR is cautiously optimistic about the housing market in 2011.
"If we add 2 million jobs as expected in 2011, and mortgage rates rise only moderately, we should see existing-home sales rise to a higher, sustainable volume," said LawrenceYun, NAR chief economist. "Credit remains tight, but if lenders return to more normal, safe underwriting standards for creditworthy buyers, there would be a bigger boost to the housing market and spillover benefits for the broader economy."
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is forecast to rise gradually to 5.3 percent around the end of 2011; at the same time, unemployment should drop to 9.2 percent, says NAR
"All the indicator trends are pointing to a gradual housing recovery," Yun said. "Home price prospects will vary depending largely upon local job market conditions. The national median home price, however, is expected to remain stable even with a continuing flow of distressed properties coming onto the market, as long as there is a steady demand of financially healthy home buyers."