Pending home sales increased 1.5% in September compared with August, to reach an index score of 110.0 on the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) pending home sales index.
The increase comes after pending home sales fell 2.4% in August. NAR notes that the index score from August was revised downward to 108.4.
Driving the increase was a big jump in the West and a substantial bump in the South.
The index is now 2.4% higher than September 2015, when the score was 107.4. It has now risen year-over-year for 22 of the last 25 months.
As has been the case for the past year or more, tight inventory is the main culprit holding home sales back.
In a statement, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, says, “Buyer demand is holding up impressively well this fall,” yet, “depressed inventory levels are keeping home prices elevated in most of the country.” This, in turn, impacts affordability.
Still, “steady job gains and growing evidence that wages are finally starting to tick up are encouraging more households to consider buying a home,” Yun says.
NAR notes that distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – fell to 4.0%, which is the lowest share since it began tracking them in October 2008.
Sales to first-time buyers were at about 34.0% in September. It was the highest share since July 2012. What’s more, it is up significantly from 29.0% from September 2015.