All-time highs for housing affordability helped elevate pending-home sales for October 9.2 percent above figures seen over the same month last year, with fewer bad appraisals scuttling deals across the country.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) measured contract signings for homes last month against numbers from the month before and last year, which it released with the Pending Home Sales Index.
The trade group recorded 93.3 for pending-home sales in October, up from 84.5 in September ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô 10.4 percent above figures seen during that month.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist with NAR, said in a statement that he hopes the new pending-home sales figures signal that ""more buyers are taking advantage of the excellent affordability conditions"" across the market.
""Home sales have been plodding along at a sub-par level while interest rates are hovering at record lows and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who normally would
have entered the market in recent years,"" he said.
Regionally, pending-home sales rose everywhere except in the West, where the index registered 105.5 points for the figures, reflecting a 0.3-percent slide, albeit one 8.1 percent above numbers seen from the year before.
The Northeast led all regions with a 17.7-percent climb to 71.3 points over October, some 3.4 percent above figures seen from the same month last year. Pending-home sales followed for the Midwest and South by 24.1 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, reaching 88.7 points and 99.5 points, respectively.
Walter Molony, spokesperson with NAR, says all signs suggest housing demand should be stronger despite a relatively healthy spot for pending-home sales.
""The problem is that we have headwinds from tight credit,"" he tells _MReport_, predicting that laxer lending standards would allow home sales to surge by as much as 15 percent to 20 percent.
He cites affordability conditions that continue to see homeownership as less expensive than renting across the country.
In August real estate Web site Trulia found homeownership costs falling below 74 percent of the country's 50 largest cities over July, with 12 percent of cities finding it more expensive to rent an apartment than to own a home.
""If you go back to sound, commonsense standards, we'd be seeing much better activity,"" Molony adds. ""We have too many failed contracts and a risk-averse lending community.""