The COVID-19 pandemic hampered home sales contracts in April, but that will likely mark the low point in pending home sales for the year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report released on Thursday. April was the second consecutive month of declining pending home sales, as social distancing measures and widespread business closures mounted due to the igniting coronavirus outbreak. Every major region of the country saw a drop in month-over-month contract activity in April.
NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index—a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings—fell 21.8% in April. Contract signings were 33.8% down for the year. April’s decline also marked the greatest decrease in pending home sales since NAR began tracking such data in January 2001.
“With nearly all states under stay-at-home in April, it is no surprise to see the markedly reduced activity in signing contracts for home purchases,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
Yun expects April’s pending home sales to be the lowest point for the year, and the month of May to, therefore, be the lowest point for closed sales. He then predicts a rebound in the housing market in the summer months.
“While the coronavirus mitigation efforts have disrupted contract signings, the real estate industry is ‘hot’ in affordable price points with the wide prevalence of bidding wars for the limited inventory,” Yun says. “In the coming months, buying activity will rise as states reopen and more consumers feel comfortable about home buying in the midst of the social distancing measures.”
More reason behind housing’s optimism: Mortgage applications have been rising over the last few weeks, a gauge used to measure future home sales.
“Given the surprising resiliency of the housing market in the midst of the pandemic, the outlook for the remainder of the year has been upgraded for both home sales and prices, with home sales to decline by only 11% in 2020 with the median home price projected to increase by 4%,” Yun says. “In the prior forecast, sales were expected to fall by 15% and there was no increase in home price.”