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NAR: Pending Home Sales Flat in January

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Pending home sales continued their sluggish performance in January, though worst may still be to come.

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Pending home sales were flat in January, according to the latest analysis by the National Association of Realtors.

Per NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, which is based on contract signings, pending home sales edged up 0.1 percent from December to January, though they were down 9.0 percent from Jan. 2013. Pending sales are now at their lowest level since Nov. 2011.

Limited Inventory, Weather Impact Pending Sales

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said weather and low inventory were the prime culprits for January’s sluggish numbers.

“Ongoing disruptive weather patterns in much of the U.S. inhibited home shopping,” he said. “Limited inventory also is playing a role, especially in the West, while credit remains tight and affordability isn’t as favorable as it was a year ago.”

There were regional differences: pending sales in the Northeast were up 2.3 percent monthly but down 5.3 percent yearly; in the Midwest, they were down 2.5 percent monthly and 9.3 percent yearly; in the South, they were up 3.5 percent monthly but down 5.5 percent yearly; and in the West, they were down 4.8 percent monthly and 17.5 percent yearly.

The Lingering Effect of High Mortgage Rates

NAR anticipate the pace of sales to increase in the coming months, but one thing remains clear when looking at the data: home sales have still not quite recovered from the interest rate shock of 2013, and with rates expected to increase throughout the year, one has to wonder how home sales will respond.

For some historical perspective, here’s how pending sales and mortgage rates have corresponded the last year:

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