Rising home prices and a tight supply of homes for sale are keeping buyers at bay.
A monthly index measuring signed contracts to buy existing homes, so-called pending home sales, fell 1.4 percent in August compared to July, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Expectations had been for a slight increase.
While sales are still 6.1 percent higher than one year ago, the annual gains are shrinking.
“Pending sales have leveled off since mid-summer, with buyers being bounded by rising prices and few available and affordable properties within their budget,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR. “Even with existing-housing supply barely budging all summer and no relief coming from new construction, contract activity is still higher than earlier this year and a year ago.”
Home prices in July were 5.3 percent higher than July of 2014 and are now just 5.5 percent below their peak from June of 2006, according to a new report from Black Knight Financial Services. After rising through most of the spring, mortgage rates came down slightly in August, but not enough to entice more buyers into the competitive market. The potential for higher rates is just one of several concerns Realtors now cite.
Regionally, pending home sales in the Northeast fell 5.6 percent for the month but are 8.9 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest sales fell 0.4 percent monthly and are up 6.5 percent from a year ago. In the South sales 2.2 percent monthly and are 4.1 percent above last August. In the West sales rose 1.8 percent monthly and are 7.6 percent higher than one year ago.