Pending US home sales improved slightly in June

WASHINGTON – The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes crept up in June, a possible indication that the recent growth in real estate sales is still on track.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 0.2 per cent last month to 111, regaining some ground after a dip in May. The index of upcoming sales improved 1 per cent from a year ago, as buyer demand remains strong even though there are fewer properties being listed for sale.

Pending sales contracts are a barometer of future purchases. A sale is typically completed a month or two after a contract is signed. The number of signed contracts

Completed sales of existing homes rose 1.1 per cent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million, the best pace since February 2007, the Realtors reported last week.

Even as demand has increased, the number of listings on the market has fallen over the past year. Many homeowners are recovering equity that disappeared after the housing bubble began to burst almost a decade ago. Even though prices are pulling closer to their peaks, these homeowners would be unable to generate enough of a profit from a sale to pay for the expense of purchasing a new home.

The number of listings has fallen 5.8 per cent from a year ago to 2.12 million, possibly limiting how much sales can continue to increase.

The tight supplies have fed into rising home values. The median home sales price has risen 4.8 per cent from a year ago to $247,700 in June. That increase is roughly double the pace of average hourly wage gains.