Pending home sales declined 1.3% to an index reading of 106.4 in April, from an upwardly revised 0.6% gain to 107.8 in March, first reported as a 0.4% rise to 107.6, according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001.

Year-over-year the pending homes sales index decreased 2.1% from last April, when the index was 108.7.

IFR Markets predicted the index would be up 0.5%.

Regionally, pending sales were mostly lower. The Northeast saw a flat read of 90.6, and sales fell 3.2% to 98.5 in the Midwest, while dropping 1.0% in the South to 127.3 , and sliding 0.4% in the West to 94.4.

“Pending sales slipped in April and continued to stay within the same narrow range with little signs of breaking out,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Feedback from Realtors, as well as the underlying sales data, reveal that the demand for buying a home is very robust. Listings are typically going under contract in under a month, and instances of multiple offers are increasingly common and pushing prices higher.”

“The unfortunate reality for many home shoppers is that reaching the market will remain challenging if supply stays at these dire levels,” Yun said.

As gas prices and mortgage rates rise, Yun said, “The combination of paying extra at the pump, while also needing to save more for a down payment because of higher rates and home prices, may weigh on the psyche of those looking to buy.”

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Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel has been at The Bond Buyer since 1989, currently covering economic indicators and the Federal Reserve system.