This morning the National Association of Realtors released the April data for their Pending Home Sales Index. Here is an excerpt from the latest press release:

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market this spring is hindered because of the severe housing shortages in much of the country. “Pending sales slipped in April and continued to stay within the same narrow range with little signs of breaking out,” he 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 month1, and instances of multiple offers are increasingly common and pushing prices higher.”

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

The chart below gives us a snapshot of the index since 2001. The MoM came in at -1.3%, down from a 0.6% increase last month. Investing.com had a forecast of 0.4%.

Pending Home Sales

Over this time frame, the US population has grown by 15.4%. For a better look at the underlying trend, here is an overlay with the nominal index and the population-adjusted variant. The focus is pending home sales growth since 2001.

Pending Home Sales Growth

The index for the most recent month is 16% below its all-time high in 2005. The population-adjusted index is 24% off its 2005 high.

Pending versus Existing Home Sales

The NAR explains that "because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing Home Sales by a month or two." Here is a growth overlay of the two series. The general correlation, as expected, is close. And a close look at the numbers supports the NAR's assessment that their pending sales series is a leading index.