Pending Home Sales Over 10-Year High

Pending home sales rose for the third consecutive month in April and reached their highest level in over a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions saw gains in contract activity last month except for the Midwest, which saw a meager decline.

The Pending Home Sale Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, hiked up 5.1 percent to 116.3 in April from an upwardly revised 110.7 in March and is now 4.6 percent above April 2015 (111.2). After last month’s gain, the index has now increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says vast gains in the South and West propelled pending sales in April to their highest level since February 2006 (117.4). “The ability to sign a contract on a home is slightly exceeding expectations this spring even with the affordability stresses and inventory squeezes affecting buyers in a number of markets,” he said. “The building momentum from the over 14 million jobs created since 2010 and the prospect of facing higher rents and mortgage rates down the road appear to be bringing more interested buyers into the market.”

On the topic of mortgage rates, which have remained below 4 percent in 16 of the past 17 months1, Yun says it remains to be seen how long they will stay this low. Along with rent growth, rising gas prices — and the fading effects of last year’s cheap oil on consumer prices — could edge up inflation and push rates higher. For now, he foresees mortgage rates continuing to hover around 4 percent in coming months.

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April Pending Home Sales…10 YEAR HIGH

Pending home sales rose for the third consecutive month in April and reached their highest level in over a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forwardlooking indicator based on contract signings, has now increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says, “The ability to sign a contract on a home is slightly exceeding expectations this spring even with the affordability stresses and inventory squeezes affecting buyers in a number of markets,” he said. “The building momentum from the over 14 million jobs created since 2010 and the prospect of facing higher rents and mortgage rates down the road appear to be bringing more interested buyers into the market.”

On the topic of mortgage rates which have remained below 4 percent in 16 of the past 17 months Yun says it remains to be seen how long they will stay this low. For now, he foresees mortgage rates continuing to hover around 4 percent in coming months, but inflation could potentially surprise the market and cause rates to increase suddenly.

Adds Yun, “Even if rates rise soon, sales have legs for further expansion this summer if housing supply increases enough to give buyers an adequate number of affordable choices during their search.”

Following the housing market’s best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007 (5.66 million)2and a decent increase (1.7 percent) in April, Yun expects sales this year to climb above earlier estimates.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate.

Millennials Impacting Homeownership

Millennials are bucking trends, changing the landscape of America, and sharply different from previous generations in many different ways. One of the most visible and consequential ways is through millennial homeownership numbers, according to experts on generational trends and homeownership.
Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research at NAR, agreed that homeownership among millennials is taking a hit. Student loan debt, flat wages, rising home prices (making it harder to get into the homeownership game) and rising rents (complicating the saving process), are delaying milestones such as marrying and having children – major events in life that often cause young people to buy a home.
First-time buyers have in the past accounted for about 40 percent of homebuyers; however, NAR data show that number has trended downward since 2011 and currently sits at 32 percent. And while married couples are the largest group of buyers (currently 67 percent of all buyers), single females make up the second largest group of buyers, and that share has also dropped from 22 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2015.
Still, one big thing hasn’t changed, according to Lautz. “Even with all these statistics showing how things have changed for millennials and the fact that they are worse off financially than previous generations had been, the median age of first-time buyers has stayed relatively unchanged at 31,” Lautz said. “This means that they are ready and willing to buy if they can in fact break into the market. It’s getting more difficult to get to that point, but the desire to do so hasn’t changed.”
And while the path to homeownership is harder now for millennials carrying student debt, dealing with rising rents, and experiencing stagnant wages, NAR research shows that millennials still see the value in owning a home.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.