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Pending home sales declined in March, the first recorded drop since last November, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The trade group’s Pending Home Sales Index took a month-over-month tumble by 5.2% to 78.9 in March; on a year-over-year basis, the index was down by 23.2%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001. Regionally, three of the four U.S. regions posted monthly declines while all were down from one year earlier.

“The lack of housing inventory is a major constraint to rising sales,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Multiple offers are still occurring on about a third of all listings, and 28% of homes are selling above list price. Limited housing supply is simply not meeting demand nationally.”

Nonetheless, Yun was optimistic that the picture will brighten with the summertime.

“Sales in the second half of the year should be notably better than the first half as job gains continue and more favorable mortgage rates are expected,” he explained. “Sales of new homes are already matching 2019 pre-COVID activity and are expected to increase in 2023, largely due to plentiful inventory in this segment of the market.”