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First Cut: Pending Home Sales Index sags in March as normal buyer traffic stays home

The NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for March sagged to 88.2, down 20.8% from the 111.4 in February and off 16.3% from the 105.4 in March 2019. Index levels are back to those seen in the first year or two after the end of the Great Recession when the jobs and wages had yet to regain upward momentum. In March, consumers took a break from home shopping amid social distancing measures and in light of worries about the economic outlook. And like the numbers for home sales in March, some signings may have been borrowed from the spring months with mortgage interest rates as tempting levels throughout the winter. However, that does not change that even with mortgage interest rates not far above historic lows for a 30-year fixed rate loan, buying a home in the next few months is going to be restricted to only the most qualified buyers with reasonable job security.

Pending homes sales across regions were in line with the national number as the impacts from the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 were spread fairly evenly across housing markets.


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