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Pending home sales rise slightly in November

Existing home prices are up 5.6% for the year

Pending home sales reversed course again last month, rising slightly and regaining the loss posted in October, the National Association of Realtors said in its Pending Home Sales Index report.

According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index rose 0.8% to 104.8 in November from a slightly downwardly revised 104.0 in October. Originally, October’s Pending Home Sales Index figure was 104.1.

November’s figure of 104.8 is 4.1% above November 2013, when the index sat at 100.7. That represents the highest year-over-year gain since August 2013.

"The consistent economic growth and steady hiring we've seen the second half of this year is giving buyers enough assurance to consider purchasing a home before year's end," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

"With rents now rising at a seven-year high, historically low rates and moderating price growth are likely to entice more buyers to enter the market in upcoming months."

Yun also said that falling gas prices should help to boost consumer confidence and will allow prospective buyers the opportunity to save additional money for a down payment.

"There's still misperception out there that a much higher down payment is needed, while that's not the reality," Yun said.

Regionally, the PHSI in the Northeast rose 1.4% to 89.1 in November, and is now 7.0% above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index decreased 0.4% to 100.0 in November, and is now 0.5% below November 2013.

Pending home sales in the South rose 1.3% to an index of 119.7 in November, and are 5.1% above last November. The index in the West increased 0.4% in November to 98.5, and is now 4.9% above a year ago.

Total existing-homes sales this year are expected to be around 4.94 million, a decline of 3% from last year (5.09 million), but are then forecasted to rise to 5.30 million in 2015, NAR said.

The national median existing-home price for all of this year will be close to $208,000, up 5.6% from 2013, and is likely to moderate to a pace between 4% and 5% next year, NAR added. Existing-home prices rose 11.4% in 2013.

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