May Pending Home Sales Fall for Third Straight Month

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Wednesday morning released its data on pending sales of existing homes for May. The pending home sales index fell 0.9 points (down 0.8%) to 108.5 from a downwardly revised April reading of 109.4. The May reading is down 1.7% compared with May 2016.

May sales did not rise in any of the NAR’s geographical regions.

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 33 straight months.

The NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, noted:

Monthly closings have recently been oscillating back and forth, but this third consecutive decline in contract activity implies a possible topping off in sales. Buyer interest is solid, but there is just not enough supply to satisfy demand. Prospective buyers are being sidelined by both limited choices and home prices that are climbing too fast.

Yun continued:

The lack of listings in the affordable price range are creating lopsided conditions in many areas where investors and repeat buyers with larger down payments are making up a bulk of the sales activity. Meanwhile, many prospective first-time buyers can’t catch a break. Prices are going up and there’s intense competition for the homes they’re financially able to purchase.”

By region, May pending home sales decreased by 0.8% to an index score of 96.4 in the Northeast, but up 3.1% compared with May 2016. In the South, sales fell 1.2% to an index score of 123.4, now 1.4% below last year’s index.

Sales dropped by 1.2% in the West to an index score of 98.6 and are down 1.4% year over year for the month. Midwest sales were unchanged, posting index score of 104.5, now 2.8% lower than May 2016.