Pending home sales rise for first time in 15 months: NAR

Sales are still down 1.2% year-over-year, according to the National Association of Realtors' chief economist

The National Association of Realtors‘ Pending Homes Sales Index rose 3.8 percent from February to March, breaking a 15-month streak of straight drops.

Despite a steadier course, the Pending Homes Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator that calculates total contract signings on existing homes, is still down 1.2 percent year-over-year, according to National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, who said the change comes as a result of falling mortgage rates and an uptick in inventory nationwide.

“We are seeing a positive sentiment from consumers about home buying, as mortgage applications have been steadily increasing and mortgage rates are extremely favorable,”  Yun said in a prepared statement.

At 8.7 percent, the West saw the largest spike in sales while the South and the Midwest also saw significant growth at 4.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. The Northeast, meanwhile, is still down at 1.7 percent.

“Despite some affordability issues in the West, the numbers indicate that there is a reason for optimism,” Yun added. “Inventory has increased, too. These are great conditions for the region.”

While home sales are slated to improve in the months to come, the annual numbers may be slow to catch up, according to Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com.

“Today’s stronger growth suggests improved home sales on the horizon though it may be a bumpy road to get there,” Hale said in a prepared statement. “In March, lower mortgage rates and more inventory won out over higher prices and buyer concerns about the sustainability of economic growth.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko