For the second consecutive month, pending home sales scaled back as significantly weak supply levels of homes for sale continue to press on affordability conditions, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday.
NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 1.3 percent in April to a 109.9 reading. The index is now 3.3 percent below a year ago. All four major regions saw a decrease in contract signings last month, except for the West.
“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,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “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 percent from a year ago and price appreciation that’s much faster than any rise they’ve likely seen in their income.”
Low inventory levels likely won’t go away anytime soon either, Yun says. Homebuilding activity remains constrained and too few homeowners are listing their homes for sale, Yun notes.
“The unloading of the 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,” Yun says. “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’s housing forecast calls for existing-home sales to be around 5.64 million this year, an uptick of 3.5 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). NAR forecasts that median existing-home prices will rise about 5 percent.