Pending Home Sales Rise in April but Miss Forecasts

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Pending Home Sales Show Signs of Stabilizing
Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By JOSH BOAK

WASHINGTON -- More Americans signed contracts to purchase homes in April than the prior month. But the pace of buying is still weaker than last year, as higher prices and relatively tight supplies have limited sales.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 0.4 percent to 97.8 last month. The index remains 9.2 percent below its level a year ago.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a signed contract and a completed sale. The index indicates that home buying has barely increased in May.

The gain in signed contracts partly reflects the slight decline in mortgage rates and the economic rebound from the brutal winter. But prices have risen by 12.4 percent year-over-year, according to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. That has put home ownership out of reach for a growing share of Americans who are stuck with stagnant incomes in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The number of signed contracts increased in the Northeast and Midwest month-to-month, suggesting that a modest weather-based rebound has occurred. However, pending sales dropped last month in the West and South, a sign to many economists that the price increases have muted buying activity more than nasty weather.

"The end of the severe winter weather will not bring with it a sustained revival in the housing market," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "The real problem is last year's massive deterioration in affordability."

Would-be buyers have gotten some help in recent weeks from falling mortgage rates. Average rates for 30-year, fixed mortgages declined for the fifth straight week to 4.12 percent, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

Still, rates remain above their lows of 3.51 percent a year ago. The rising rates in the second half of 2013 and higher home prices appear to have reduced the pool of potential homebuyers.

The Realtors said last week that sales rose 1.3 percent in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million. Purchases of homes over the past 12 months have dropped 6.8 percent.

15 PHOTOS
House Rich: Neighborhoods With the Biggest Price Jumps
See Gallery
Pending Home Sales Rise in April but Miss Forecasts

Year-over-year gain: 21.5%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $224,450

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $272,750

Residents enjoy hundreds of nearby hiking trails, as well as indoor culture at the Fine Arts Center and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.

Year-over-year gain: 22%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $318,375

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $388,500

This neighborhood, bounded by the Schuylkill River and 20th Street, and by South Street and Christian Street, was viewed as a slum in the 1970s, when Philadelphia's Redevelopment Authority took over abandoned properties.

Year-over-year gain: 24.2%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $516,450

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $641,500

Magnolia covers 4 square miles, making it the second-largest Seattle neighborhood by area. It features a lighthouse built in 1881 and is home to Seattle's largest park, at 534 acres.

Year-over-year gain: 32.1%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $210,446

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $277,898

Paradise Valley, in the heart of the Scottsdale-Phoenix area, gets an average 294 days of sunshine a year -- hence, the more than 200 golf courses.

Year-over-year gain: 32.2%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $344,750

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $455,835

The Washington Post listed Sunset Hills among "the shortest commute" category of Virginia neighborhoods, with an average commute time of just over 21 minutes. And Dulles International Airport is about six miles away.

Year-over-year gain: 44.5%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $247,735

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $357,900

This once-seedy area has become hot in recent years. It's packed with art galleries and chic retail shops, as well as new upscale bars and restaurants next to venerable family-owned cafeterias.

Year-over-year gain: 46.9%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $284,750

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $418,250

Brighton, once the center of New England's cattle trade, is in the northwest corner of Boston, on the Charles River. The Brighton Branch Library is Boston's first renovated LEED Green Building. The Brighton Police station is shown here.

Year-over-year gain: 47.5%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $223,175

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $329,100

South Loop joins a number of other once-blighted neighborhoods on this list that have been redeveloped and are now hot. The site of former rail yards, it was known for many years more for its vices (as in brothels, burlesques) than its residential virtues.

Year-over-year gain: 48.7%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $241,000

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $358,450

Also: Fairgrounds, San Jose (41.4%); La Jolla, San Diego (40%); Woodland Hills, Los Angeles (37.5%); Southwest Anaheim, Anaheim (35.2%); Berryessa, San Jose (34.4%).

Newhall, the southernmost and oldest district of Santa Clarita, was the first permanent Anglo settlement in the valley. Ranches-turned-film studios dot the area, including the Melody Ranch, which was once owned by Gene Autry. The ranch hosts the annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival.

Year-over-year gain: 48.8%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $504,250

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $750,275

This is the most affluent neighborhood in Charlotte; the median income is $79,737, according to Zillow. That compares with a median of $46,975 for Charlotte. A high point of the area is the Duke Mansion, built in 1915 by tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke.

Year-over-year gain: 57.4%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $167,450

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $263,615

People who live here, according to classifications Zillow uses to characterize residents, are likely to be: Corporate Climbers, Multi-lingual Urbanites or in a category called "Bright Lights, Big City," which Zillow uses to describe "singles ranging in age from the early 20s to mid-40s who have moved to an urban setting."

Year-over-year gain: 97.3%

Median sale price, Jan. 2013: $668,250

Median sale price, Jan. 2014: $1,318,301

New York City’s 92-acre planned community includes areas built on more than 3 million cubic yards of soil and rock, some of which was excavated during the construction of the World Trade Center.

Bloomberg ranked neighborhoods in U.S. cities based on the year-over-year increase in median home sale prices from January 2013 to January 2014. Percentage increases were based on Zillow calculations of median sale prices of all home types and calculated only for neighborhoods with at least 10 sales per month. Only neighborhoods with median home sale prices of at least $250,000 in January 2014 were included. Data were rounded.

Related real estate rankings:

Most Expensive Home Prices: U.S. Neighborhoods

Priced Out: Where Higher Rates Could Hurt Homebuyers The Most

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION
Read Full Story

Find a Home

Buy
Rent
Value
Powered by Zillow

People are Reading