WASHINGTON (8/29/13)--Pending home sales in the U.S. were down in July, with higher mortgage interest rates slowing the market, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The Pending Home Sales Index--a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings-- declined 1.3%, to 109.5 in July from 110.9 in June, but is 6.7% above July 2012 when it was 102.6. The data reflect contracts but not closings. Pending sales have stayed above year-ago levels for the past 27 months.
There is an uneven pattern around the country, said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "The modest decline in sales is not yet concerning, and contract activity remains elevated, with the South and Midwest showing no measurable slowdown," he explained.
"However, higher mortgage interest rates and rising home prices are impacting monthly contract activity in the high-cost regions of the Northeast and the West," he said. "More homes clearly need to be built in the West to relieve price pressure, or the region could soon face pronounced affordability problems."
NAR projects existing-home sales to increase 10% for all of 2013, totaling about 5.1 million, and reach about 5.2 million next year.
To read the NAR release, use the link.