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Pending home sales fall in U.S., Manatee

MANATEE — Pending home sales fell both nationally and in Manatee County in November, according to data released today.

The National Association of Realtors said its pending sales index was 96 in November, a 16-percent drop from an upwardly revised 114.3 in October. Still, the November showing was a 15.5-percent improvement from the same month a year ago, when the index stood at 83.1.

Pending sales of existing single-family homes also fell in Manatee, according to statistics compiled for the Manatee Association of Realtors.

There were 402 homes under contract in November, down 7.6 percent from 435 in October but up 117.3 percent from 185 in November 2008.

Lawrence Yun, the national Realtors’ chief economist, said the drop was expected because an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers was due to expire Nov. 30. It has since been extended and expanded.

“It will be at least early spring before we see notable gains in sales activity as home buyers respond to the recently extended and expanded tax credit,” Yun said. “The fact that pending home sales are comfortably above year-ago levels shows the market has gained sufficient momentum on its own. We expect another surge in the spring as more home buyers take advantage of affordable housing conditions before the tax credit expires.”

The tax credit’s expiration date now is April 30. Yun projects an additional 900,000 first-time buyers will qualify for the extended tax credit in addition to about 2 million who have already purchased. About 1.5 million repeat buyers also are expected to benefit from the credit.

The pending sales index fell 15 percent in the South, 25.7 percent each in the Midwest and Northeast, and 2.7 percent in western states.