Pending Home Sales Tick Up in July
Fast Fact: The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 1.3 percent to 111.3 in July. The index is now at its second highest reading this year after April (115.0).
Pending home sales expanded in most of the country in July and reached their second highest reading in over a decade. Only the Midwest saw a dip in contract activity last month.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says a sizable jump in the West lifted pending home sales higher in July. “Amidst tight inventory conditions that have lingered the entire summer, contract activity last month was able to pick up at least modestly in a majority of areas,” he said. “More home shoppers having success is good news for the housing market heading into the fall, but buyers still have few choices and little time before deciding to make an offer on a home available for sale. There’s little doubt there’d be more sales activity right now if there were more affordable listings on the market.”
Recent residential construction data shows that the size and costs of new homes has moved downward over the past year. According to Yun, this is an early indication that homebuilders are beginning to shift away from building larger, more expensive homes for the upper end of the market to focusing more on properties geared for buyers in the middle and lower price tiers.
“Realtors® in several high-cost areas have been saying for quite a while that there is robust demand for single-family starter homes and townhomes at an affordable price point for young buyers,” adds Yun. “The homeownership rate won’t move up from its over 50-year low 2 without a meaningful boost from first-time buyers, whose participation has yet to noticeably increase so far this year despite mortgage rates near all-time lows 3.”
Existing-home sales this year are forecast to be around 5.38 million, a 2.8 percent increase from 2015 and the highest annual pace since 2006 (6.48 million). After accelerating to 6.8 percent a year ago, national median existing-home price growth is forecast to slightly moderate to around 4 percent.