New pending home sales softening

New pending sales declined in April as the local market reacted to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

There were 688 new contracts (pending sales) at the end of the month – down from 718 in March and 872 April last year. The 12-month trend is 15.6% higher.

Pending sales are a leading indicator of housing activity based on signed contracts for existing single-family homes, condominium, and townhome resales in the area monitored by the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) Trends Report. Since resales go under contract 30 to 60 days before the sale is closed, pending sales typically lead existing-home sales by about two months.

By mid-May, REALTORS® were seeing some increases in consumer traffic, according to NETAR President Kristi Bailey. “There’s a lot of speculation that April might have been the bottom the initial COVID-19 effect on housing. While mortgage rates continue to fall, the lending market has tightened, as has inventory. On average, owners, who had sales close in April, saw a 13% increase over the March average sales price,” she added.

Active listings at the end of April were down 25.2% from a year ago, and the region only has three months of inventory. There were 601 new listings in April– a decline of 371 over last year’s total. April’s median listing price ($199,900) was up 13.6% from last year, while the median sales price ($160,000) was up 6.7%. NETAR’s Trends Report capsules housing market conditions in Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties in NE Tenn. and Scott, Lee, Washington, and Wise counties in SW Va.