Pending Home Sales Stay Slumped

The Pending Home Sales Index barely budged for January, according to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) report released today.

After plummeting a revised 5.8% to 94.9 for December on mostly bad weather, analysts had expected January to bring 2.3% rebound growth. But they were disappointed, as pending home sales stayed low with 0.1% growth. Compared to January 2013, pending home sales are down 9%.

The index is based on contract signings (with sales usually finalized one or two months later) and is benchmarked to 2001 contract activity. (An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year the association examined data.)

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that natural and manmade movements kept January sales in check. "Ongoing disruptive weather patterns in much of the U.S. inhibited home shopping," Yun said in a statement today. 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."

Looking ahead, the NAR expects the median existing-home price to head 5% to 6% higher in 2014, while existing-home sales are expected to taper off to 5.0 million for the year, just behind 2013 numbers.

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