Pending home sales dropped for the second consecutive month in April and were down year-over-year nationally in all four major regions, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Only contract signings in the West were on the rise last month.
Pending sales were down 1.3% to 109.8 in April from a downwardly revised 111.3 in March. The index is currently 3.3% below a year ago, which is the first year-over-year decline since last December and the largest since June 2014 (7.1%).
The PHSI in the Northeast decreased 1.7 percent to 97.2 in April, and is now 0.6 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 4.7 percent to 104.4 in April, and is now 6.1 percent lower than April 2016.
Pending home sales in the South declined 2.7 percent to an index of 125.9 in April and are now 2.3 percent below last April. The index in the West jumped 5.8 percent in April to 100.0, but is still 4.2 percent below a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, sahad said, “Much of the country for the second straight month saw a pullback in pending sales as the rate of new listings continues to lag the quicker pace of homes coming off the market,” he said. “Realtors® are indicating that foot traffic is higher than a year ago1, but it’s obviously not translating to more sales.”
Added Yun, “Prospective buyers are feeling the double whammy this spring of inventory that’s down 9.0 percent from a year ago2 and price appreciation that’s much faster than any rise they’ve likely seen in their income.”
Unfortunately, Yun believes there is little evidence these astoundingly low supply levels are going away soon. Homebuilding activity has not picked up enough this year and too few homeowners are listing their home for sale.
“The unloading of single-family homes purchased by real estate investors during the downturn for rental purposes would also go a long way in helping relieve these inventory shortages,” said Yun. “To date, there are no indications investors are ready to sell. However, they should be mindful of the fact that rental demand will soften as the overall population of young adults starts to shrink in roughly five years.”
Yun forecasts existing-home sales to be around 5.64 million this year, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 5 percent. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.1 percent.