Pending home sales, prices pick up after tough winter

This winter has been incredibly hard on the U.S. housing market, homebuyers and sellers. Severe winter weather hampered interest in residential construction, and a tight economy further contributed to the less-than-ideal sales numbers. However, that has changed in March.

This winter has been incredibly hard on the U.S. housing market, homebuyers and sellers. Severe winter weather hampered interest in residential construction, and a tight economy further contributed to the less-than-ideal sales numbers.

However, that has changed in March. According to the National Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index, positive gains have been felt for the first time in nine months. The index increased 3.4 percent from February to March, now at 97.4. While that is good news, it is still below the 105.7 reported during the same time in 2013. 

"After a dismal winter, more buyers got an opportunity to look at homes last month and are beginning to make contract offers," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. "Sales activity is expected to steadily pick up as more inventory reaches the market, and from ongoing job creation in the economy."

The strongest month-over-month gains were felt in the West, followed by the South and Northeast. The PHSI for the Midwest region actually declined, down 0.8 percent from February to March.

Home prices remain steady across country
Thanks to fluctuating sales number across the U.S., home prices have been in danger of slipping despite recent improvements. However, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices indicated that numbers have held steady on a monthly basis despite weaker home sales numbers.

While the annual rates of gain dipped for both the 10-City and 20-City Composites, prices remained steady month over month in February, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported. Out of the 20 cities, 13 noted declines in home prices during that time. 

David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement that other housing statistics are impeding overall recovery despite continued price gains. He pointed to sales and mortgage rates as contributing factors.

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