Pending Home Sales Up in March
Pending home sales—considered a leading indicator of the housing market—rose in March, marking the first gain in the past nine months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
NAR's Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 3.4 percent to 97.4 from an upwardly revised 94.2 in February.
“After a dismal winter, more buyers got an opportunity to look at homes last month and are beginning to make contract offers,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Sales activity is expected to steadily pick up as more inventory reaches the market, and from ongoing job creation in the economy.”
Though it has risen after months of stagnation, the index is still 7.9 percent below year-ago levels. Although home sales are expected to trend up over the course of the year and into 2015, this year began on a weak note and total sales are unlikely to match 2013 levels.
The pending sales numbers varied from region to region:
- In the Northeast, the PHSI increased 1.4 percent to 78.8 in March, but is 5.9 percent below a year ago.
- In the Midwest, the index slipped 0.8 percent to 94.5 in March, and is 10.1 percent below March 2013.
- Pending home sales in the South rose 5.6 percent to an index of 112.7 in March, but are 5.3 percent below a year ago.
- The index in the West increased 5.7 percent in March to 91.0, but is 11.1 percent below March 2013.
Existing-home sales are expected to total just over 4.9 million this year, below the nearly 5.1 million in 2013. However, with ongoing inventory shortages in much of the country, the national median existing-home price is expected to grow between 6 and 7 percent in 2014.