Pending Home Sales Leap 5.5 Percent in February

(CN) – Pending home sales rebounded sharply in February to their highest level in nearly a year and second-highest level in over a decade, the National Association of Realtors announced Wednesday.

According to the association, its pending home sales index climbed 5.5 percent in February to 112.3, its highest point since April and second-highest since 2006.

The index rose 11.4 percent in the Midwest, 4.3 percent in the South, 3.4 percent in the Northeast and 3.1 percent in the West.

Lawrence Yun, the Realtors’ chief economist, said February’s convincing bump in pending sales is proof that demand is rising with spring on the doorstep.

“Buyers came back in force last month as a modest, seasonal uptick in listings were enough to fuel an increase in contract signings throughout the country,” he said. “The stock market’s continued rise and steady hiring in most markets is spurring significant interest in buying, as well as the expectation from some households that delaying their home search may mean paying higher interest rates later this year.”

“Last month being the warmest February in decades also played a role in kick-starting prospective buyers’ house hunt,”  Yun added.

Looking ahead to the busy spring months, Yun expects to see continued ebbs and flows in activity as new supply struggles to replace listings that are going under contract at a very quick pace.

This is especially the case at the lower- and mid-market price ranges, where choices are minimal and prices are being bid higher by multiple offers.

“The homes most buyers are in the market for are unfortunately the most difficult to find and ultimately buy,” Yun said. “The country’s healthy labor market is translating to greater job security, but affordability is not improving because home prices in some areas are still outpacing incomes by three times or more because of tight supply. How much new and existing inventory there is on the market this spring will determine if sales can reach their full potential and finally start reversing the nation’s low homeownership rate.”