The numbers: Pending home sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.5% in April and were 2% lower than a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The consensus Econoday forecast was for a 0.5% increase.
What happened: NAR’s index, which tracks home-contract signings, has been volatile, but the trend is solidly downward. April marked the 16th-straight month of annual declines.
Contract signings precede closings by about 45-60 days, so the pending home-sales index is a leading indicator for upcoming existing-home sales reports.
Only the Midwest saw an increase in April, with a 1.3% uptick. Pending sales were down 1.8% in the Northeast, 2.5% in the South, and 1.8% in the West.
Big picture: Housing seemed to be bouncing back from the rough patch at the end of 2018, but as 2019 winds on, that picture is becoming more blurry. On Tuesday, the widely-followed Case-Shiller index showed home prices had risen at the slowest pace since mid-2012 in March.
What they’re saying: “Real estate agents throughout the U.S. may have to brace for a more sluggish market than anticipated based on last month’s decline in home showing activity, the ninth consecutive month of a nationwide year-over-year decrease,” according to an index from ShowingTime, which compiles data about property showings.
But the Realtor lobby group remains upbeat. “It’s inevitable for sales to turn higher in a few months,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.
Market reaction: The 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which sets the tone for fixed-rate mortgage rates, is down again in the most recent week, offering an affordability boost to would-be house hunters.