Pending home sales surprisingly tumbled 2.5% in January

Pending home sales
Pending home sales
JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Rising prices, lower inventory seen muting demand

By Anna Louie Sussman | The Wall Street Journal

The number of existing homes tentatively sold across the U.S. fell in January, as swiftly rising prices and lower inventory muted buyer demand after the strongest year in nearly a decade.

An index measuring pending home sales—a gauge of purchases before they become final—fell 2.5% to a seasonally adjusted reading of 106.0 in January, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which the NAR considers a “normal,” or balanced, market for the current U.S. population. In 2015, the index averaged 108.9, a rise of 8.0% over 2014 and its highest level since 2006.

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