Pending Home Sales Drop In March – Stagnant For 2 Years

(ZeroHedge), contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes declined in March after rising a month earlier by the most since 2010, as perhaps the seasonal exuberance gives way to affordability constraints. Despite NAR’s comments that “home shoppers are coming out in droves this spring,” it is evident from the chart below that pending home sales have been stagnant for almost two years.

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Regionally, only The South saw a sales increase:

  • The PHSI in the Northeast decreased 2.9 percent to 99.1 in March, but is still 1.8 percent above a year ago.
  • In the Midwest the index declined 1.2 percent to 109.6 in March, and is now 2.4 percent lower than March 2016.
  • Pending home sales in the South rose 1.2 percent to an index of 129.4 in March and are now 3.9 percent above last March.
  • The index in the West fell 2.9 percent in March to 94.5, and is now 2.7 percent below a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sparse inventory levels caused a pullback in pending sales in March, but activity was still strong enough to be the third best in the past year.

“Home shoppers are coming out in droves this spring and competing with each other for the meager amount of listings in the affordable price range,” he said.

“In most areas, the lower the price of a home for sale, the more competition there is for it. That’s the reason why first-time buyers have yet to make up a larger share of the market this year, despite there being more sales overall.

Yun worries that the painfully low supply levels this spring could heighten price growth — at 6.8 percent last month — even more in the months ahead. Homes in March came off the market at a near-record pace 1, and indicating an increase in the likelihood of listings receiving multiple offers, 42 percent of homes sold at or above list price (the second highest amount since NAR began tracking in December 2012).

“Take my money!!”

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