WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in July, signaling that the housing market has yet to enjoy a strong bounce from lower mortgage rates.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its pending home sales index fell 2.5% to 105.6 in July. The index has slipped 0.3% from a year ago as uncertainty has mounted about the health of the economy. With trade tensions and fears of a possible recession intensifying, a robust job market hasn’t been enough to strengthen sales.
Sales have also been hampered by the lack of available homes on the market, which has contributed to home prices climbing faster than incomes and pricing out some would-be buyers. The long-standing shortage of sales listings and persistently high prices have blunted the benefits of mortgage rates nearing all-time lows.
Ben Ayers, a senior economist at Nationwide, said the housing market was moving in fits and starts, reflecting the competing forces of low mortgage rates and a limited supply of homes, along with recession fears. Still, his outlook for the housing market remains solid.