Nationally, via CBS Marketwatch:
“Pending home sales rose 8.2% in May, partly bouncing back from a dismal April, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The 13.4% gain from May 2010 levels marks the first time in 13 months that contract activity was above year-ago levels.”
And the local numbers look even better (see graphic above), from MAAR:
“For the week ending June 18, pending sales in the Twin Cities reached a new high for 2011. The 961 signed purchase agreements were 49.0 percent higher than the same week last year. That’s the greatest number of pending sales in 57 weeks or since the week ending May 15, 2010″
But before we start popping corks, note that it is not clear how much of the current year (local) gains are distorted the expiration of the 2010 housing tax credits – real estate activity fell off a cliff in 2010 once the credits expired. We may also be seeing, at least locally, a surge in pent-up demand from what was an unusually long and brutal winter, and a cold, late, late spring.
Bottom line: This is solidly positive news, and though it would be premature to opine that housing has turned the corner for good, it is clear that more and more buyers are figuring out that low prices and ultra-low rates will not lockstep forever.