Keep passing out those "Missing: Housing Market Bottom" fliers. The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index spit out another depressing figure this month. The March reading dropped 1 percent from February and now stands 20 percent lower than a year ago.
NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, who is also a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif., blamed more restrictive lending practices for the decline, which was in line with expectations.
From a statement accompanying the release:
Our members are telling us that more buyers are looking at homes but are slow in signing contracts, and that's contributing to the weakness in pending home sales.... In many cases buyers are waiting for greater access to affordable credit, especially in higher cost areas, but some are disappointed with what appears to be unnecessarily restrictive lending requirements.
Although the overall trend is downward, the report found significant regional variations, with sales jumping nearly 13 percent in the Northeast and falling more than 10 percent in the Midwest. The only comfort in this report is that the numbers were no worse than expected.