After three straight months of gains, the latest Pending Home Sales Index (PSHI) from the National Association of Realtors showed a decline of 5.5 percent for the month of April. This declining figure is not the bright spot many analysts were hoping for, but it does leave pending home sales 14.4 percent above April 2011.
Regional figures varied according to the PSHI. The Northeast experienced a 0.9 percent rise in April, bringing its levels 19.9 percent of last year.
All other regions experienced different degrees of declines, with the West falling the hardest by 12.0 percent. The South decline by 6.8 percent and the Midwest slipped a marginal 0.3 percent.
All regions' pending sales are higher, though, than last year. This has given experts faith that these figures only indicate a temporary setback.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, reports, "Home contract activity has been above year-ago levels now for 12 consecutive months. The housing recovery momentum continues."
Yun notes home sales are staying well above the levels seen from 2008 through 2011. "Housing market activity has clearly broken out at notably higher levels and is on track to see the best performance since 2007," he said. "All of the major housing market indicators are expected to trend gradually up, but a new federal budget must be passed before the end of the year for the economy to continue to move forward."
Distressed properties still account for nearly one-third of today's sales, but that number seems to be steadily decreasing. This healthy leveling out of foreclosed properties should help to bolster home prices. "The diminishing share of distressed properties is another reason for higher home prices in upcoming months," Yun added.
It is these price gains and home value stabilizations that will help current homeowners stay on top of their mortgage. In recent post recession years there have been 11 million underwater homeowners across the nation. This means 11 millions homeowners owed more than what they home could sell for, leaving many in a precarious situation should the need to sell arise.
Yun said the price gains will measurably reduce the number of underwater homeowners. "For example, a 5 percent national price gain means the number of underwater homeowners would fall to about 9 million from current estimates of around 11 million. A 10 percent gain, say over the next two years, would reduce the underwater status to about 7 million households out of 75 million owner-occupied homes," he said.