May 28 (UPI) -- Pending U.S. home sales -- those based on contract signings -- fell 34 percent in April compared to the same month in 2019, an industry report said Thursday.
The National Association of Realtors said pending April home sales fell 21.8 percent compared to March, a steeper-than-expected decline. The latest numbers represent the greatest decline in pending home sales since the NAR began keeping track in January 2001.
"With nearly all states under stay-at-home orders in April, it is no surprise to see the markedly reduced activity in signing contracts for home purchases," Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said.
Yun said it's likely April will be the low point for pending contracts during the economic crisis tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and numbers will rise as states begin to loosen stay-at-home orders. He also expects May to be the low point in closed sales.
"While coronavirus mitigation efforts have disrupted contract signings, the real estate industry is 'hot' in affordable price points with the wide prevalence of bidding wars for the limited inventory," he said. "In the coming months, buying activity will rise as states reopen and more consumers feel comfortable about homebuying in the midst of the social distancing measures."
The NAR said it's outlook for the year has been upgraded from previous predictions, with an 11 percent decline in home sales and a 4 percent increase in the median home price. Prior predictions saw a 15 percent decline in home sales and no increase in home prices.