WASHINGTON (July 28, 2014) – After three consecutive months of solid gains, pending home sales slowed modestly in June, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 1.1 percent to 102.7 in June from 103.8 in May, and is 7.3 percent below June 2013 (110.8). Despite June’s decrease, the index is above 100 – considered an average level of contract activity – for the second consecutive month after failing to reach the mark since November 2013 (100.7).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market is stabilizing, but ongoing challenges are impeding full sales potential. “Activity is notably higher than earlier this year as prices have moderated and inventory levels have improved,” he said. “However, supply shortages still exist in parts of the country, wages are flat, and tight credit conditions are deterring a higher number of potential buyers from fully taking advantage of lower interest rates.”
Despite these headwinds, Yun ultimately expects a slight uptick in sales during the second half of the year. “The good news is that price appreciation has decreased to its slowest pace since March 20121 behind much needed increases in inventory,” he said. “With rents rising 4 percent annually, potential buyers are less likely to experience sticker shock and can make smart decisions on whether or not it makes sense to buy or continue renting.”
The PHSI in the Northeast fell 2.9 percent to 83.8 in June, and is 3.2 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index rose 1.1 percent to 106.6, but remains 5.5 percent below June 2013.
Pending home sales in the South dipped 2.4 percent to an index of 113.8 in June, and is 4.3 percent below a year ago. The index in the West inched 0.2 percent in June to 95.7, but remains 16.7 percent below June 2013.
Yun forecasts existing-homes sales to be down 2.8 percent this year to 4.95 million, compared to 5.1 million sales of existing homes in 2013. The national median existing-home price is projected to grow between 5 and 6 percent this year and in 2015.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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1The median existing-home price for all housing types in June was $223,300, which is 4.3 percent above June 2013. This is the slowest increase since March 2012 (3.1 percent)
*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 percent 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: Second quarter metropolitan area home prices will be published August 12, Existing-home sales for July will be reported August 21, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be August 28; release times are 10:00 a.m. EDT.