Housing pending sales surge to second-highest level this year

Pending sales surged to a three-month high in October. Sellers accepted 965 new contracts (pending sales), up from 921 in September. October’s pending sales are at a 17.3% increase in the long-term trend and a 31.8% increase in the three-month moving average. There were only seven fewer new contracts approved in October than the all-time high set in July.

Pending sales are a leading indicator of housing activity based on signed contracts for existing single-family homes, condominium, and townhome resales in the area monitored by the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) Home Sales Report. Since resales go under contract 30 to 60 days before the sale is closed, pending sales typically lead existing-home sales by about two months.

Although the contract fall-through rate has been higher than average this year, October’s surge signals a more robust close to the 2020 housing market.  Last year new pending sales saw a three-month softening beginning in July. Then they bumped up for a strong fourth quarter. This year they began increasing in July and have been in the 900 plus range since then.

Inventory also sank to a new low in October. There were 2.2 months of inventory compared to 2.3 months in September.  October’s median listing price ($199,900) was unchanged from September and 11% higher than last year. The median sales price ($175,000) was down $4,000 from September and 9.4% higher than last year.

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