Pending Home Sales Stand Pat in March

Tight inventory is constraining contract activity, and holding back pending home sales.

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Pending home sales rose slightly in March, but seem to be leveling off overall, an industry report showed Monday.

The Pending Home Sales Index – an indicator based on contract signings, not closings – rose 1.5 percent in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's 7 percent above levels reported in March 2012, continuing an almost 2-year streak of higher pending homes sales year-over-year.

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NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun blamed the tight inventory of homes for sale for lackluster pending home sales numbers. "Contract activity has been in a narrow range in recent months, not from a pause in demand but because of limited supply," Yun said in a statement.

Still, Yun expects the market to heat up as the year progresses and labor market continues to improve along with household wealth, fueling more housing demand.

Regionally, pending home sales rose most in the South, jumping almost 3 percent in March and up more than 10 percent since a year ago. The Northeast remained stagnant in March, but pending home sales were still up more than 6 percent year-over-year. In the Midwest, the index increase just 0.3 percent and 1.5 percent in West. The West was the only region to report a year-over-year decline in pending home sales, with activity dropping more than 4 percent since last March.

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  • Meg Handley is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at