Last Thursday the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Pending Home Sales for October UP 10.4% over the month before. This index is a measure of signed purchase contracts, which bodes well for Existing Home Sales a couple of months out. The NAR’s chief economist commented, “It is welcoming to see a solid double-digit percentage gain, but activity needs to improve further to reach healthy, sustainable levels. The housing market clearly is in a recovery phase and will be uneven at times, but the improving job market and consequential boost to household formation will help the recovery process going into 2011.”

Tuesday, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index was down 0.8% in September for the 20 largest metro areas in the country. This was the third month in a row the index dipped, but national average home prices are still up 0.6% versus a year ago. Prices are also 3.2% above the May 2009 bottom and some analysts do not expect prices to go below that level. Opinions differ, however. Check out this map on the risk of price declines in various parts of the country:

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