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16:39 on July 30 2013

U.S. pending home sales decline in June amid high rates

"Mortgage interest rates began to rise in May, taking some of the momentum out of contract activity in June"
- Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist
Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes declined in June, rebounding from a more than six-year high in May and adding to signs that increasing mortgage rates were starting to dampen home sales. The National Association of Realtors said the index for pending sales fell 0.4% to 110.9 in June from a downwardly revised 111.3 a month earlier. The fall, however, was much smaller than the consensus estimate of a 1.7% decline after the May spike to the highest pace since December 2006. Contracts increased in the West, where they reached almost four-year high, but dropped in the Midwest and South, while the index for the Northeast remained flat. Compared to the previous year contracts were up 10.9%, as the housing market recovers from the collapse of a price bubble in 2006.
The housing market has been a bright spot in the economy, providing a buffer from a fiscal austerity. Existing home sales declined in June, while selling prices rose to a five-year high in a sign the housing market was still on track. Additionally, new home sales were up last month. The NAR expected existing-home sales, the biggest component of the U.S. market, to increase more than 8.0% and the average price to jump almost 11% this year. Economists anticipate a gradual improvement in the labour market and an expected economic growth should help push the housing market recovery moving forward, despite higher rates.
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U.S. pending home sales decline in June amid high rates
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