The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Wednesday morning released its data on pending sales of existing homes for April. The pending home sales index fell 1.5 points (down 1.3%) to 109.8 from a downwardly revised March reading of 111.3. The April reading is down 5.8 points (5%) from an index of 115 in April 2016.
April sales rose in only one of four NAR regions, the West, but the gain was significant.
The consensus estimate called for a month-over-month increase of 0.5 points in pending sales. The index reflects signed contracts, not sales closings. An index reading of 100 equals the average level of contract signings during 2001.
The index has been above 100 (the “average” reading) for 32 straight months.
The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, noted:
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. Realtors® are indicating that foot traffic is higher than a year ago, but it’s obviously not translating to more sales. Prospective buyers are feeling the double whammy this spring of inventory that’s down 9.0 percent from a year ago and price appreciation that’s much faster than any rise they’ve likely seen in their income.
While some observers believe that investor-owned properties that were purchased when home prices collapsed will be coming on the market soon, the NAR said it does not yet see any indications that investors are preparing to sell. Most of these properties are rentals and their inclusion in active real-estate listings would go a long way to easing the inventory shortage.
By region, April pending home sales decreased by 1.9% to an index score of 97.2 in the Northeast, down 0.6% compared with April 2016. In the South, sales fell 2.7% to an index score of 125.9, now 2.3% below last year’s index.
Sales rose by 5.8% in the West to an index score of 100 but remain down 4.2% year over year for the month, and sales in the Midwest fell by 4.7% to an April index score of 104.4, now 6.1% lower than April 2016.