The number of homes buyers put into contract last month rose after recent declines.
An index tracking pending homes sales increased 1.9 percent in March, according to the National Association of Realtors’ monthly index. The index jumped 23.3 percent year over year.
The index had reported month-over-month declines for the past six months, but an end-of-year adjustment due to a lag in data reporting altered those results, a spokesperson said. After the revision, the index had only dropped for two consecutive months in January and February, which Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, attributed to a lack of available housing inventory.
Yun expects those supply constraints to be eased by the increase in residential construction and end of forbearance programs.
“Although these moves won’t immediately replenish low supply, they will be a step forward,” he said in a statement.
Every region except the Midwest saw month-over-month and year-over-year increases in pending sales. In the Midwest, sales fell 3.7 percent compared to February.
NAR’s existing home sales index dropped 3.7 percent last month — the second consecutive month sales fell. Yun also attributed the declining sales to a lack of supply.
At the end of March there were 1.07 million existing units on the market and homes were sold within 18 days, the fastest rate on record.
Despite the low inventory, demand to purchase is strong and continues to push up prices. Home prices grew at the fastest rate in 15 years in February, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index.
The median sale price of existing homes in March hit an all-time high of $329,100, up 17.2 percent year over year.