Led by the West, the Pending Home Sales Index increased 1.3% in July to the highest level since April, and increased 1.4% year-over-year. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), increased to 111.3 in July from a downwardly revised 109.9 in June.
The PHSI surged to 108.7 in the West from 101.3 in June. The Northeast and South increased by 0.8% in July, while the Midwest declined by 2.9%. Year-over-year, the PHSI increased 6.2% in the West, 1.1% in the Northeast and 0.4% in the South, but decreased 1.1% in the Midwest.
Although existing sales decreased 3.2% in July, there was a 2.5% increase in the West last month. The housing recovery is reaching the point in the cycle when new residential construction is adding smaller entry-level homes into inventory. Townhouse construction outpaced the rest of the single-family market during the second quarter of 2016. That trend toward smaller and less expensive new single-family construction has begun to improve affordability in the West, sparking momentum that suggests increasing sales among first-time buyers across a wider range of markets in 2016.