Pending home sales fell 2.5% in July compared with June, to a score of 105.6 on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index.
Regionally, pending home sales fell 3.4% in the West, 2.5% in the Midwest, 2.4% in the South and 1.6% in the Northeast, according to the monthly report.
“Super-low mortgage rates have not yet consistently pulled buyers back into the market,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR. “Economic uncertainty is no doubt holding back some potential demand, but what is desperately needed is more supply of moderately priced homes.”
Yun expects GDP growth to ease to 2.0% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020, but growth predictions are somewhat uncertain due to trade tensions.
With slower economic growth, interest rates will remain low, he predicts. Though home sales will get a short term boost from lower mortgage rates, existing-home sales are likely to be flat at 5.34 million in 2019 given the level of sales in the first seven months of the year.
Amid tight inventory conditions, the median price of existing-home sales will continue increasing, but at a slower pace of 4% in 2019, to $269,000, and 3% in 2020, to $278,500.
Yun says the lack of inventory is creating a drag on home sales, which, in turn, is negative for the U.S. economy.
“A boost to home building would greatly improve economic growth,” he says. “More free-market prices on construction materials without government interference about where homebuilders have to get their supply will also help produce more and grow the economy.
“The housing industry cannot grow without more supply.”