For the first time since June, pending home sales (number of contracts signed), dropped in September by 1.8% according to the National Association of Realtors. The report was unveiled on Friday as the Association began its annual convention in New Orleans.  This came as a surprise to many as a group of Reuter’s polled economists had recently anticipated an increase of 3%.  So why the drop?

Paul Dales, U.S. economist for Capital Economics surmised that the lower number was a result of the recent foreclosure mess; deals signed in September, might have fallen apart in October as banks pulled some foreclosures from the market and buyers got cold feet.  But that doesn’t really make sense as the September drop occurred before any of the problems with foreclosure affidavits came to light.

I think that one of the most obvious factors is the continued unemployment rate that has now been at 9.5% or higher for the past 15 months.  People who aren’t working, or fear that their employment is tenuous don’t buy houses.  Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist also pointed out that “tight credit and appraisals coming in below the negotiated price continue to constrain the market.”

So as noted in my post on November 3, Capital Economics continues to predict a bit more of a gloomy future for the housing market.  Dales says that “existing sales may well fall back,” and described housing activity as “bouncing along the bottom.”  NAR on the other hand continues to be a bit more optimistic, forecasting an increase in existing home sales in 2011 to 5.1 million, up from 4.8 million this year.  I’ll keep you posted as soon as I have the San Diego numbers for September, but I’m siding with NAR and remain cautiously optimistic about sales in America’s Finest City, especially if lenders loosen their stranglehold on the market by approving more home loans.

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