According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. pending home sales increased in March 2021, snapping two consecutive months of declines. All but one of the four major U.S. regions experienced month-over-month gains in March, while each area recorded year-over-year growth.
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 1.9% to 111.3 in March. Year-over-year, contract signings jumped 23.3%, with the difference due in large part to the pandemic-induced lockdown in March 2020. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
"The increase in pending sales transactions for the month of March is indicative of high housing demand," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "With mortgage rates still very close to record lows and a solid job recovery underway, demand will likely remain high."
"Low inventory has been a consistent problem, but more inventory will show up as new home construction intensifies in the coming months, as well as from a steady wind-down of the mortgage forbearance program," Yun continued. "Although these moves won't immediately replenish low supply, they will be a step forward."
Existing-home sales are projected to rise by 10% in 2021 to reach 6.2 million in 2021, while the median home price is anticipated to increase by 9% in 2021 to $323,900.
Housing starts are forecasted to reach 1.6 million in 2021 and 1.7 million in 2022, providing much-needed relief to the housing inventory deficit. Mortgage rates are expected to modestly climb higher over the next two years, to 3.2% in 2021 and 3.5% in 2022, as inflation rises due to a stronger economy and higher fiscal spending. The economy is anticipated to expand 4.5% in 2021 and 3.5% in 2022.
Realtor.com's Hottest Housing Markets data revealed that out of the largest 40 metros, the most improved metros over the past year, as of April 14, were Jacksonville, Fla.; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.; and San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas.
March Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
The Northeast PHSI rose 6.1% to 97.9 in March, a 16.7% increase from a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 3.7% to 98.6 last month, up 14.1% from March 2020.
Pending home sales transactions in the South jumped 2.9% to an index of 137.2 in March, up 27.9% from March 2020. The index in the West grew 2.9% in March to 94.5, up 29.8% from a year prior.