More Homes Homes Go Under Contract—Except in One U.S. Region

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By Clare Trapasso Via Realtor.com

Home buyers have been out in force this spring, as the number of homes under contract got a boost last month—except in the Western swath of the country, where the cost of buying is intimidatingly high.

March pending home sales, which are purchases that have yet to close, were up 30.1% from February and 2.9% compared with a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors® Pending Home Sales Index.That’s looking at the actual numbers, instead of the seasonally adjusted ones that compensate for the different pace of home buying at different times of the year.

“Everything points to a very strong spring and summer for real estate,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com®. He adds that sales typically go up as the weather turns warmer. “We’re benefiting from continued job creation and more people getting married, having kids, and planning for retirement. Buying a home is central to all of those life events.”

The West had the fewest properties under contract in March. The region includes astronomically expensive cities such as Portland, OR, San Francisco, and Seattle. Pending sales were down 5.7% year over year in the region, but were still up 18.7% from the previous month, according to the index.

“It’s where the supply of homes for sale is tightest both in the existing home market and due to the lack of growth in the new-home market,” Smoke says. “Prices continue to shoot up. … [And] it’s particularly challenging for first-time buyers.”