By Tim McLaughlin, Senior Vice President, Weichert Financial
The index of pending home sales, which reflects deals that have signed contracts but haven’t yet closed, was released this week and rose to 97 from 89.8 a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. This index that tracks contracts to buy previously owned homes rose 2% in January from December to the highest level since April 2010, rekindling hopes that improving demand will continue to move the housing market in the right direction.
The reading was the highest for any January since 2007, and is further fueled by mortgage rates which are nearly one percentage point below their levels of a year ago, trending near historical lows.
The number of Americans filing first time claims for jobless benefits fell to a level matching a four-year low from March of 2008, more evidence the labor market is healing.
Applications for unemployment insurance decreased 2,000 in the week ended Feb. 25 to 351,000, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 355,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls fell, while those getting extended payments also declined.
Work reductions are on a downward trend as employers gain confidence in the outlook for economic growth. A smaller number of job reductions also puts those companies in place to hire additional employees as demand picks up.
In an equally encouraging sign, only seven states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 44 had a decrease.
Positive statements heard this week:
“The attendance at my Open House last weekend was the busiest in years, with multiple visitors having serious interest.”
“I had three offers on the first weekend, and it is becoming a bit of a bidding scenario”