Is the Real Estate Market Slowing Down?
July 29, 2013
With ongoing issues like higher interest rates and low inventory levels, the real estate recovery story is facing several headwinds. And last month, pending home sales retreated from six-year highs.
Compared to last year, the index is 10.9 percent higher. Pending sales have now been above year-ago levels for 26 consecutive months. An index reading of 100 equals the average level of contract signings during 2001.
Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’s chief economist, believes affordability is on the decline. He said in a press release: “Mortgage interest rates began to rise in May, taking some of the momentum out of contract activity in June. The persistent lack of inventory also is contributing to lower contract signings.”
Yun continued: “There are some homebuyers who sign contracts with strong lender commitment letters, but have floating mortgage interest rates. Those rates can be locked as late as 10 to 14 days before closing, so some homebuyers may change their minds if the rate rises too much, which apparently happened with some sales scheduled to close in June. Closed sales may edge down a bit in the months ahead, but they’ll stay above year-ago levels.”
Overall, the Pending Home Sales Index was mostly flat or lower across major regions of the country. The index was unchanged at 87.2 in the Northeast but is 12.2 percent above year-ago levels. In the Midwest, the index declined 1 percent to 114.3 in June. Sales in the South fell 2.1 percent to 118.3, while the West region posted a gain of 3.3 percent.
In morning trading, housing-related stocks, like Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Lowe’s(NYSE:LOW), traded flat. Meanwhile, home builders PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM) and D.R. Horton(NYSE:DHI) jumped 1.4 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.