Last week, the National Association of Realtors reported the first year-over-year median price drop for homes nationwide in more than 11 years.

But today, the group released its “pending-home sales index,” which revealed a 4.3 percent increase in August’s pending sales from the previous month. That level was 14.1 percent lower than a year ago.

The NAR releases two indicators of the previous month’s sales. There’s the number of homes for which contracts were signed – that’s today’s “pending” release – and then the number of homes that closed sale, all in the previous month.

The pending index increase was especially strong in the West (the region including California), with a 9.2 percent increase from July’s pending sales.

In a statement, NAR’s chief economist, David Lereah, was quite optimistic about the numbers:

“Our sense is that home sales may have reached a low in August,” he says. “The Pending Home Sales Index shows home sales should be fairly stable over the next two months, although a minor decline is possible.”

But an economist interviewed for Dow Jones MarketWatch had this response:

“The gain was not enough to suggest that the downtrend has ended,” said Maury Harris, economist for UBS, based on the recent declines in mortgage applications.


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