The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, dropped 11.6% to 81.9 in April from a downwardly revised 92.6 in March, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The index is 26.5% below a cyclical peak of 111.5 in April 2010 when buyers were rushing to beat the contract deadline for the home buyer tax credit. The data reflects contracts but not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.
“The pullback in contract signings is disappointing and implies a slower than expected market recovery in upcoming months,” he said. “The economy hit a soft patch in April from sharply rising oil prices, widespread severe weather with the heaviest precipitation in 20 years, and a sudden rise in unemployment claims,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
The Pending Home Sales Index in the Northeast rose 1.7% to 64.5 in April but is 33.4% below a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 10.4% to 74.1 and is 30.2% below April 2010. Pending home sales in the South dropped 17.2% to an index of 91.3 in April and are 27.0% below a year ago. In the West the index declined 8.9% to 89.1 and is 16.9% below April 2010.
“Even with very favorable affordability conditions, job growth and a pent-up demand from abnormally low household formation during the past three years, the recovery will continue to be uneven and sluggish given the ongoing credit constraints,” Yun said.