Pending home sales increased 2.4% in February compared with January and were up 9.4% compared with February 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Regionally, and month-over-month, sales increased 4.6% in the West, 4.5% in the Midwest, 2.8% in the Northeast and 0.1% in the South.
Year-over-year, sales were up 14.9% Midwest, 10.8% in the West, 7.1% in the South and 5.9% in the Northeast.
Pending home sales are forecast to drop significantly in March due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“February’s pending sales figures show the housing market had been very healthy prior to the coronavirus-induced shutdown,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, in a statement. “Numbers in the coming weeks will show just how hard the housing market was hit, but I am optimistic that the upcoming stimulus package will lessen the economic damage and we may get a V-shaped robust recovery later in the year.”
Yun says that naturally there will be a lengthier stay of inventory in the market from reduced short-term demand, citing data from active listings at Realtor.com that show year-over-year increases.
Markets drawing some of the most significant buyer attention include Colorado Springs, Colo.; Lafayette, Ind.; Modesto, Calif.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Sacramento, Calif.
“Housing, just like most other industries, suffered from the coronavirus crisis, but once this predicament is behind us and the habit of social distancing is respected, I’m encouraged there will be continued home transactions, though with more virtual tours, electronic signatures, and external home appraisals,” Yun says. “Many of the home sales that are likely to be missed during the first part of 2020 may simply be pushed into late summer and autumn parts of the year.”