U.S. pending home sales surged 44% in May, the biggest gain on record, as Americans emerging from lockdowns went home shopping, according to a report on Monday from the National Association of Realtors.
The spike in signed contracts to buy homes came as the average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a record low of 3.15% at the end of May, as measured by Freddie Mac. Since then, rates in the last two weeks have set a new all-time low of 3.13%.
“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings, and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “This bounce-back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”
Despite the surge, contract signings remained 5% below the year-ago month, the report said.
Among the nation’s largest metro areas, active listings were up by more than 10% in May compared to April in Honolulu, San Francisco, San Jose, California, Denver, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, according to the report.
In tandem with the pending sales report, Yun released his latest forecast for the housing market, showing sales of existing homes in 2020 probably will drop 7.7% and sales of new homes likely will rise 1%.
“The outlook has significantly improved, as new home sales are expected to be higher this year than last, and annual existing-home sales are now projected to be down by less than 10% – even after missing the spring buying season due to the pandemic lockdown,” Yun said.
The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage probably will be 3.2% this year and 3.1% in 2021, Yun said. Both would be the lowest annual average ever recorded.