August 4th, 2009
01:45 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Housing picture keeps improving

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/04/02/foreclosure.dream.homes/art.nicehome.cnn.jpg" caption="A new report shows home sales went up in June."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

More Americans signed sales contracts to buy homes in June than in the previous month - another encouraging sign for the embattled housing market.

The National Association of Realtors says its Pending Home Sales Index rose 3.6% in June. That’s the fifth straight month of increases and the longest monthly winning streak since July 2003.

The report followed several other recent pieces of good news for the housing industry, including a substantial rise in new home sales, a jump in existing home sales and the first home price increase in nearly three years.

The Pending Home Sales Index tracks signed contracts to purchase previously-owned homes and is considered a barometer for future home sales. Typically there is a one- to two- month lag between a sales contract and a completed deal.

Personal income tumbles, spending up

Personal income fell in June after surging in the previous month on government stimulus, while spending by individuals increased.

The Commerce Dept. says personal income fell 1.3% in June, compared with a revised 1.3% increase in May, when government stimulus boosted social benefits payments and reduced taxes.

The June decrease was the largest drop in personal spending since January 2005, when incomes fell 2.3%. Excluding the impact of the government's economic stimulus, incomes eased 0.1% in June and were essentially flat in May.

Consumer bankruptcies jump 34%

Consumer bankruptcies surged in July to the highest level since October 2005 as American households struggle under the burden of past debt and rising unemployment.

Total filings reached 126,434 in July, a more than 34% increase from the same period a year ago and a nearly 9% increase over June, according to a report released by the American Bankruptcy Institute.

The number of filings was the highest monthly total since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act went into effect in October 2005.

Gallery: Top 10 "clunkers" cars

Finally, we reported Monday that Ford saw a modest increase in July domestic sales - the first monthly sales gain for a major automaker since the financial crisis began. Ford credited the “Cash for Clunkers” program for the boost.

And when it comes to “Clunkers,” Ford benefited from its past sins. The automaker says the vehicle most often traded in was its once popular Explorer SUV, the very vehicle that kicked off the SUV craze in the 1990s.

No doubt many of those Explorer owners remained loyal Ford customers. That’s likely one of the reasons the Ford Focus is the most purchased car under the program.

See the Top 10 most purchased cars under the program here.

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance • Housing Market
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Mark from Saint Louis

    Jobless rates are high, foreclosures are up and income is down. Oh well, not all good news.

    August 5, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  2. Art

    There are signs everywhere, It just depends which ones you read and/or perception. This is the one I keep seeing, millions of jobs lost and very few replaced. Social services on the rise. Government debt huge and growing. Were still in Iraq. Small business struggling and closing. Energy prices continue to climb,[ winter will come]. Bankruptcy and forcloser continue to rise. Should I continue.

    August 5, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    Ah Ah, but according to Republicans democrats have got it all wrong!!
    TARP,TARF, stimulus package ( latter still to work thru) and the mortgage relief plan, are just greedy liberals ( or socialists) (( health care)) democrats spending government $$$ for no return, and some signs housing will turn even better.
    MMM, banks showing profits, drawn investors to support capital ratio's written off Billions in bad loans, and now showing profits, the Dow, S&P Nasdaq all rising substanially ( hello middle class and retirees) your 401k is not as sick as before and will get better.
    Only things wrong not enouh attention to Financoal regulation and Medical services costs all round.
    What remains really sick is health care and the fact that no one wants to pay who has existing cover for the 47m ( and the current unemployed) that do not.
    If that means a health care tax for the rich ( over 250k earners direct or indirect tax) to make it self funding that's the Democratic thing to do and if you are Republican and a constitutionlist remember we are all equal or should be and 47m are not. Republicans are not listening to them only big pharma, docs, hospitals, pharmacists, and medical equipment suppliers, and I have not seen any them poor or without cadillac medical plans.

    August 5, 2009 at 5:43 am |
  4. Gary Bailey

    It looks like some of the money that was thrown at Wall Street, the bankers, automobile manufactures and others has helped out the DJIA and this is an encouraging sign. But even with things starting to look up I am greatly worried about this adminstration and the direction that they are leading this great nation. For many years our leaders have ignored the workers of this great nation and now unemployment seems to be out of control. I don't believe that the people of the United States want their government to infer with private businesses or to close private businesses like they did when they closed thousands of car dealerships. While people want the government to enforce laws that protect them I don't believe the people of the United States want government to take over health care, the banks or any sector of manufacturing. The government should pass laws allowing generic drugs but they won't do that becaues of the drug company's lobbyists and the stream of money that the drug companies give to our elected officials. While the government talks about cleaning up earths atmosphere and imposing Cap and Trade taxes we must realize that Cap and Trade will cost the average family about $2,000.00 a year for the next ten years. I fear for the United States and where our elected officals are leading us by spending like there is no tomorrow and giving money to bankrupt businesses we are rewarding failure. To destroy a country it is said that first you must destroy that country's economy and the way Bush and Obama have thrown money away it might be too late to save the United States from Obama's Socialism

    August 5, 2009 at 1:47 am |
  5. Cathy, Highland Village, Texas

    I work out at LA Fitness in Highland Village, TX. Always workout in the a.m. with my trainer Debby. First time workout on a Tmill after work tonight at gym around 530-5:45 p.m. CST. I was on Tmill watching people come in their work clothes, bags to change in. I had a very weird thought. Anyone could walk into this LA fitness and just start shooting. I looked around and was close to the fire exit and also thought that is where I would go if something like that happened. I am just a regular married gal with children working out listening to my ipod and just had that random thought. So now home later watching AC360 the shooting in a LA fitness? What time did this happen? I mean really sad! I guess I'm a bit freaked out because I was thinking about the exact thing that happened and same place, LA fitness. I have never had a thought like that ever and then it happened. And NO It was not on the TVs at the gym or I would not be sending this. God bless those people. What is going on in our sad world? I just wish I could pick winning lotto numbers instead of that thought.
    Love the show.
    Thank you.

    August 4, 2009 at 11:40 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Sounds like the economy is at best at a standstill especially on personal spending. Hopefully the growth in house sales is a harbinger of a better economy coming soon.

    August 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  7. Stephanie Chapin

    Just wondering....How many people have commited suicide, or gotten divorce because of losing their jobs?

    August 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  8. earle,florida

    I was just talking with a young fellow where I happen to be vacationing,and we had gotten into a converstion regarding America's outsourcing of jobs back in the 80's to low-wage countries,ie.China.I was quite amazed,and frankly appreciative of his knowledge at how globalization,and world economies work. Needless to say as the youngman in his early 20's [going to college (Business Management/MBA?fingers-crossed),and working his way through as an employee of my hotel/lodge],and I started talking about (don't know the subject came up) "1st Time Home Buyer's" ,and how he will soon be purchasing a home,with a really nice," fixed-rate (conventional home) mortgage interest payment" (I'll keep the rate confidential,but it's decent) with a down-payment of less tha 5%,nice. The only caveat is that it has to be homesteaded for three years,with occupancy a must,showing proof (no-doc's a taboo)! What fasinated me was the $8,000 credit towards his taxes,on top of the great deal he can get currently in a buyer's market (all the power to this wise young man) ,but he was a bit worried that if he doesn't rush into a purchase (he's been eyeing a particular home for a awhile) that the "1st Time Home-Buyer Program" will expire on December 31,2009 and he will get stuck missing-out on the best bargain he'll probably have had for decades to come! We'll,my opinion/advise for him was not to take a chance, and make the purchase,before the program expires,only knowing that this government doesn't like spending money on good programs that work for the average "Joe" ,....? My point being,is that this program is working,and first time homeowners are eager to buy now that the economy is showing sure signs of recovery.

    August 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Melissa

    Signs of recovery, but we aren't out of this yet.

    August 4, 2009 at 2:27 pm |