On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Pending Home Sales Index rose 2 percent last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. A "pending home sale" is defined as a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed.
February's Pending Home Sales Index rebound breaks a 2-month losing streak, and reverses the recent downward momentum in housing. Both Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales volume showed a sizable loss last month.
For buyers and sellers of real estate , the Pending Home Sales Index is of particular import. It's one of the few forward-looking indicators in housing, and February's data suggests a stronger spring season than was the winter.
Region-by-region, Pending Home Sales data varied:
- Northeast Region: -10.9%
- Midwest Region : +4.0%
- South Region : +2.7%
- West Region : +7.0%
3 of 4 regions showed marked improvement, which is good for housing. In the fourth -- New England -- it's likely that inclement weather hampered results.
February was colder-than-normal and the month capped a record-breaking snowfall season for the region. Anecdotally, fewer homes are sold in the cold-and-snow of winter and it's likely that the weather affected local housing markets.
Looking to March and April, therefore, we should expect Existing Home Sales data to rebound. This is because 80% of "pending" homes close within 60 days, and because improving weather should release pent-up demand for housing.
More sales plus higher home demand tends to lead home prices higher. If you're in the market for a new home, consider that your best negotiation leverage comes in a weak market. As the seasons turn, your leverage looks poised to slip.
The best time to buy this year may be right now.