RISMEDIA, May 12, 2008-The Greater Philadelphia region saw a 9.6 percent decrease in March real estate activity moving to an index of 69.8 from the upwardly revised February index of 77.2, according to The Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors® HomExpert Pending Home Sales Index©. The March index indicates the market is 34.9 percent lower than March 2007.
Compared to findings reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index, real estate activity in the Greater Philadelphia region fell below the Northeast and National indices. The NAR index showed a 12.5 percent growth in pending sales in the Northeast and a one percent decrease nationally. In February, the NAR index indicated a 3.2 percent growth in pending sales in the Northeast and a 1.9 percent decrease nationwide.
Based on the forward-looking indicator, real estate activity in the five-county Southeastern Pennsylvania fell 10.7 percent from a revised index of 84.5 in February to 75.5 in March, recording the lowest index for the area over the past year. Bucks County saw an 18.3 percent decrease in March, its fourth consecutive decrease moving from an index of 87.5 in November 2007 to 60.9 in March. Montgomery County faired the best of the five-county area with a 2.6 percent decrease in March, followed by Chester County falling 8.5 percent. Center City and the Main Line area both saw a decrease in real estate activity, falling 7.5 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.
Southern New Jersey pending home sales fell 2.8 percent, indicating the best market improvement in the tri-state region, moving from a revised index of 63.9 in February to 62.1 in March. Gloucester County saw the largest increase in real estate activity, growing 9.6 percent from a revised February index of 69.7 to 76.4 in March. Burlington County was the only other county in the 12-county area to see an increase in pending home sales in March, increasing 3.7 percent. Delaware real estate activity fell 18.2 percent in March.
“The Greater Philadelphia real estate market is slowly seeing adjustments from the mortgage credit crunch,” said Steve Storti, senior vice president of marketing for Prudential Fox & Roach. “With the increased level of inventory, there are more homes for buyers, especially first-time buyers to evaluate. At the same time they are also being cautious in signing contracts and are waiting to see how the market and interest rates will fare in the upcoming months.”
While the March pending homes sales index for the Greater Philadelphia region decreased 9.6 percent, it is 34.8 percent below the March 2007 index, moving from an index of 107.2 in 2007 to 69.8 in 2008. The Southeastern Pennsylvania index is 33.8 percent below a year ago, Southern New Jersey is down 35.3 percent and the Delaware area fell 40.3 percent below last year’s index.
Based on contracts signed in March, the index monitors real estate market activity by tracking pending sales of homes reported to the TREND® Multiple Listing Service, the region’s primary real estate reporting tool for 32,000 real estate professionals. A sale is listed as ‘pending’ when a contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed. Sales are typically finalized within one or two months of signing. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2002. The Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors HomExpert Pending Home Sales Index is modeled after the national index created by the National Association of Realtors®, which is available at www.realtor.org.