The numbers: Pending-home sales declined 0.7% in July, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
What happened: NAR’s index, which tracks real-estate transactions in which a contract has been signed but the transaction hasn’t yet closed, fell to a reading of 106.2, missing the consensus forecast of a flat reading.
It was the seventh-straight month in which the index was lower on an annual basis — by 2.3% in July. In the first eight months of 2018, the index has charted monthly increases four times and monthly decreases four times. In July, the pending home sales index in the Northeast rose 1.0%, while the index in the Midwest inched up 0.3%. Pending home sales in the South fell 1.7%, while in the West, they were down 0.9%.
Big picture: Housing has stalled out. In July, total home sales — existing and new — sank below a key psychological benchmark to the lowest in two years. What had been a seller’s market across most of the U.S. hit a tipping point this year, as buyers decided the slim pickings on the market weren’t worth it.
What they’re saying: “It appears sales activity crested in late 2017,” said Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater earlier in August. “It is clear affordability constraints have cooled the housing market, especially in expensive coastal markets. Many metro areas desperately need more new and existing affordable inventory to break out of this slump.”