Pending home sales declined in April, a modest change from the growth seen a month before, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only one of the four major regions – the Midwest – experienced growth, while the remaining three regions reported a drop in their respective contract activity.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 1.5% to 104.3 in April, down from 105.9 in March. Year-over-year contract signings declined 2.0%, making this the 16th straight month of annual decreases.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the sales dip has yet to account for some of the more favorable trends toward homeownership, such as lower mortgage rates. “Though the latest monthly figure shows a mild decline in contract signings, mortgage applications and consumer confidence have been steadily rising,” he said. “It’s inevitable for sales to turn higher in a few months.”
“Home price appreciation has been the strongest on the lower-end as inventory conditions have been consistently tight on homes priced under $250,000. Price conditions are soft on the upper-end, especially in high tax states like Connecticut, New York and Illinois.” The supply of inventory for homes priced under $250,000 stood at 3.3 months in April, and homes priced $1 million and above recorded an inventory of 8.9 months in April.
Citing active listings from data at realtor.com®, Yun says the year-over-year increases could be a sign of a rise in inventory. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash., and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., saw the largest increase in active listings in April compared to a year ago.
“We are seeing migration to more affordable regions, particularly in the South, where there has been recent job growth and homes are more affordable,” Yun said.
April Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 1.8% to 88.9 in April and is now 2.1% below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index grew 1.3% to 96.8 in April, 2.4% lower than April 2018.
Pending home sales in the South fell 2.5% to an index of 124.0 in April, which is 1.8% lower than last April. The index in the West dropped 1.8% in April to 93.5 and fell only 1.5% below a year ago.
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.
The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20% of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.
NOTE: NAR’s May Housing Minute video will be released on May 31, Existing-Home Sales for May will be reported June 21, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be June 27; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.