By Ian McKendry

WASHINGTON (MNI) – The National Association of Realtors Wednesday
said pending home sales in July reached their highest level since April
2010 — which was just before the closing deadline for the home buyer
tax credit.

“All regions saw monthly increases in home-buying activity except
for the West, which is now experiencing an acute inventory shortage,”
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement accompanying the

Pending home sales increased 2.4% from June to July, reaching an
index level of 101.7 the NAR said. The index also broke the 100.0
threshold in March when it was 101.1 and in May when it was 100.7.

Pending home sales is a forward looking indicator and usually is a
predictor of existing-home sales one to two months down the road.

With July’s pending home sales report, the NAR said it is now
forecasting existing-home sales to rise 8% to 9% in 2012 and another 7%
to 8% in 2013.

The NAR said it is also predicting prices will increase 10%
cumulatively over the next two years.

“Falling visible and shadow inventories point toward continuing
price gains,” Yun said.

“Expected gains in housing starts of 25% to 30% this year, and
nearly 50% in 2013, are insufficient to meet the growing housing
demand,” Yun added.

The Case-Shiller home price indices, which lag by two months but is
one of the more referenced home price indicators, Tuesday reported that
home prices rose 2.3% in June.

** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **