Pending home sales continued to fall last month, marking the eighth consecutive month for annual decreases, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. The drop in contracts may be a sign of a growing number of buyers who are being priced out of the market, economists warn.
NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index—a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings—fell 1.8 percent to a reading of 104.2 in August. Contract signings are now 2.3 percent lower than a year ago.
The largest declines last month were in the West, where home prices have risen the most. “[This] clearly indicates that affordability is hindering buyers and those affordability issues come from lack of inventory, particularly in moderate price points,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
The decline in sales contracts has also coincided with fewer homes on the market. But that may soon change—a record high of Americans now say it’s a good time to sell their home, according to NAR’s third-quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey.
“Just a couple of years ago about 55 percent of consumers indicated it was a good time to sell; that figure has climbed to 77 percent today,” Yun says. “With prices having risen so quickly, many consumers were deciding to wait to list their homes hoping to see additional price and equity gains. However, with indications that buyers are beginning to pull out, price gains are going to decelerate and potential sellers are considering that now is a good time to list and bring more properties to the market.”