The numbers: U.S. pending home sales rose 0.5% in December, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That’s the highest reading since March, even though the index stands just 0.5% higher than a year ago.
What happened: December marked the third month of increases for NAR’s index of pending home sales, which tracks real-estate transactions in which a contract has been signed, but the transaction hasn’t closed.
The 0.5% increase exactly matched the consensus forecast from Econoday.
Contract signings usually precede sales by 45 to 60 days, and NAR said in a release that the slight December uptick suggests the housing market will start 2018 with “a small trace of momentum.” Still, sales throughout 2017 were only 1.1% higher than in 2016, and the Realtors expect the recent tax-law changes to take a bite out of sales in 2018.
The big picture: Tight inventory was again the culprit for a disappointing pace of sales in December, NAR said.
December’s pending sales were mixed regionally: down 5.1% in the Northeast and 0.3% in the Midwest, but up 2.6% in the South and 1.5% in the West.