Buyers are writing contracts at a furious pace nationwide. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Pending Home Sales Index rose 2 percent last month to reach its highest level since March. A "pending home sale" is a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. The forward-looking Pending Home Sales Index is up 11 percent from its low of the year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, and well ahead of its rolling 6-month average. Unfortunately, national data isn't always helpful for buyers and sellers in Bethesda and nationwide. To help make data more relevant, therefore, the official Pending Home Sales Index report includes a region-by-region breakdown. Between May and June 2011, results were mixed:
However, even the value of regional data may be dubious. The West Region, for example, which showed big gains in June, is comprised of multiple states containing thousands of cities and towns. Some of those areas outperformed the region, and some of them underperformed. The Pending Home Sales Index doesn't show which towns did which. It can't. For everyday buyers and sellers in Northern Virginia , it's the local data that matters. The Pending Home Sales Index shows that more contracts were written in June than in April or May -- a good sign for housing overall. And because 80% of all contracts close within 60 days, we can expect the summer's home resale activity to be high. This leads home prices higher. With mortgage rates low and home sales spiking, now may be the best time to buy a home in 2011. Home prices appear to be rising and mortgage rates should, too.