Pending sales are eclipsing done deals as the best gauge of the housing market, Realtors said, as financing and appraisal obstacles apparently slow otherwise brisk sales.
Realtors handled 1,189 home sales here last month, down 2.9 percent compared with February 2012, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors.
The drop was puzzling, since every other major statistic was positive: The interest rate was better for buyers, an average of 3.64 percent, more than one-tenth cheaper than a year ago; the average sales price was $160,255, up 5.1 percent; and houses sold in an average of 87 days, about a week faster than in February 2012.
Keith Taggart, president of the association, dug deeper into the numbers and found a wad of transactions that were taking longer than usual.
The number of listings that went under contract last month but did not close was 1,747 — up 19 percent from a year ago and an increase of 60 percent compared with February 2011.
Pending sales last month were 25.9 percent above the five-year average for February: 1,372, Taggart said.
So, the dip in closed sales doesn't concern him as a gauge of the market.
“These (pending) numbers are more reflective of the feeling I get from the market activity right now,” said Taggart, managing broker for Coldwell Banker Select's office in Mustang. “Perhaps the dip in the numbers closed has to do with problems with financing and appraisals.
“Everyone is very busy. Everyone is so happy with the market. Our business is up 15 percent over this time last year.”
Pending sales hit a record of 750 in Edmond last month, said Brian Preston, an agent with RE/MAX Associates Realtors who compiles a monthly market report. In fact, he said, there were more sales pending for houses between $100,000 and $200,000 than there were homes listed for sale but not under contract.
Taggart pointed to two other factors affecting the “feel” of the market:
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