U.S. Pending Home Sales Fall Most Since April on Low Inventory

U.S. pending home sales fell in February by the most since April as rising home prices and a shortage of available properties deterred buyers.

The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales decreased 10.6% from the prior month to 110.3, the lowest reading since May, according to data released Wednesday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for the measure to fall 3%.

U.S. Pending Home Sales Fall Most Since April on Low Inventory

Surging home prices and low inventory are slowing the pandemic-era housing boom, evidenced by declines in contract signings in all four U.S. regions. In addition, severe winter weather limited purchases during February.

At the same time the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been increasing, which may affect buyer demand in the coming months. Contract signings were down 2.7% from the same period in 2020 on an unadjusted basis.

“The demand for a home purchase is widespread, multiple offers are prevalent, and days-on-market are swift but contracts are not clicking due to record-low inventory,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR, said in a statement.

By region, contract signings fell the most in the South, where winter storms curtailed business activity and led to a 13% slump in pending home sales. In the Midwest, sales declined 9.5% and in the Northeast they fell 9.2%. In the West, they decreased 7.4%

After falling to an all-time low of 2.65% in January, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 3.17% last week, the highest level in more than nine months. While borrowing costs are expected to continue to rise, NAR’s Yun said he doesn’t expect rates to exceed 3.5% this year.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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