Home Sales Slip on Foreclosure Freeze

Pending home sales declined in October according to the NARThe housing market charted further into unknown territory on Friday, as pending home sales fell after two months of growth.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced Friday that contracts signed in September slid 1.8 percent to 80.9, down from an upwardly revised 82.4 in August. In context, an index of 100 reflects average contract activity seen in 2001, the first of five boom years for existing-home sales.

One factor cited for the stammering recovery is the recent impact of the foreclosure moratorium, which disrupted sales in many states. But despite the unsteady recovery, analysts remain hopeful that sales, along with consumer confidence, will improve next year.

"For 2011 we should see more than 5.1 million existing-home sales, up from about 4.8 million this year," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist at the 2010 Realtors Conference and Expo on Friday. "Housing starts are expected to rise to 716,000 in 2011 from 598,000 this year."

Yet the ultimate arbiter of housing market growth is a healthy workforce. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, 151,000 jobs were created in October, the largest surge in five months. However, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent. Whether home sales rebound next month will be largely contingent on continued job growth.

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