Increase in home sales contracts seen as positive sign – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


More prospective buyers committed to purchase homes in April, causing the largest monthly jump in resale contracts in more than seven years, according to a national report released Tuesday.


The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index of sales contracts signed in April surged 6.7 percent when compared with March. Locally, real estate agents are seeing a similar trend.


“This is definitely a good sign,” said Lauren Holmes, managing broker for the Roswell office of Crye-Leike Realtors. “And I think the number of contracts written will continue to increase though mid-July, our usual summer sales season.”


While the report does not break out state-by-state statistics, it does highlight regions. In the South, pending sales are flat month over month but up 4 percent year over year, according to the report.


Low mortgage interest rates boosted pending home sales for the third consecutive month, with some benefit now from the first-time buyer tax credit, according to the Realtors’ group.


Eugene James, division director for MetroStudy in Atlanta, said home affordability is the best it has been in more than a decade, and low sales prices mix well with the low interest rates.


The next positive indicator will be an increase in the number of closings, said Ken Harris, broker and owner of Ken Harris and Associates Realty and Auction, in Alpharetta. He said an agent can help ensure that a contract closes by “doing your homework before the contract is written.”


“Making sure your client is qualified for the loan and things of that nature can help in that regard,” he said. “But that is certainly the next number we are keeping an eye on.”