WASHINGTON, D.C.: US pending home sales fell in January as winter weather pounded the Northeast, but contract signings were higher still than a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.
The NAR’s pending home sales index dropped 2.5 percent to 106.0 in January from an upwardly revised December reading of 108.7.
Pending sales were up 1.4 percent from January 2015. The index has climbed year-over-year for 17 straight months, but January’s rise was the smallest since September 2014.
The month-on-month decline was led by a 4.9 percent drop in the Midwest. The only region reporting an increase in activity was the South, where signings rose a modest 0.3 percent.
NAR pointed out that a number of factors likely were at play holding back contract signings in January.
“While January’s blizzard possibly caused some of the pullback in the Northeast, the recent acceleration in home prices and minimal inventory throughout the country appears to be the primary obstacle holding back would-be buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
Yun suggested that some potential homebuyers were waiting for the spring selling season in hopes of more inventory on the market.
The NAR data were the latest to show a slowdown in the housing market in January.
New-home sales plummeted 9.2 percent from December despite a sharp drop in prices. Sales of existing, or previously owned homes, the main segment of the housing markets, edged up 0.4 percent.