Good news on the real estate front: pending home sales mounted a record comeback in May, seeing encouraging contract activity after two previous months of declines brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the National Association of Realtors.
According to a NAR news release every major region recorded an increase in month-over-month pending home sales transactions, while the South also experienced a year-over-year increase in pending transactions.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI),* a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 44.3% to 99.6 in May, chronicling the highest month-over-month gain in the index since NAR started this series in January 2001. Year-over-year, contract signings fell 5.1%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
“More listings are continuously appearing as the economy reopens, helping with inventory choices,” Yun said. “Still, more home construction is needed to counter the persistent underproduction of homes over the past decade.”
According to data from realtor.com, among the largest metro areas, active listings were up by more than 10% in May compared to April in several metro areas, including Urban Honolulu, Hawaii; San Francisco, Calif.; San Jose, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; and Colorado Springs, Colo.
“The outlook has significantly improved, as new home sales are expected to be higher this year than last, and annual existing-home sales are now projected to be down by less than 10% – even after missing the spring buying season due to the pandemic lockdown,” Yun said in the release.
NAR now expects existing-home sales to reach 4.93 million units in 2020 and new home sales to hit 690,000. “All figures light up in 2021 with positive GDP, employment, housing starts and home sales.” Yun noted that in 2021, sales are forecast to rise to 5.35 million units for existing homes and 800,000 for new homes.
May Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
The month of May saw each of the four regional indices rise on a month-over-month basis after all were down in April 2020.
The Northeast PHSI grew 44.4% to 61.5 in May, although it was still down 33.2% from a year ago. In the Midwest, the index rose 37.2% to 98.8 last month, down 1.4% from May 2019.
Pending home sales in the South increased 43.3% to an index of 125.5 in May, up 1.9% from May 2019. The index in the West jumped 56.2% in May to 89.2, down 2.5% from a year ago.
*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.
The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20% of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.