The most recent pending home sales report that soundly beat estimates after a downtrend in the previous months caused some serious head-scratching. Pending home sales were up a healthy 8% from April and just over 13% compared to the same month last year. Of course, last year’s comps should be discounted due to COVID-19.
From the National Association of Realtors: “Pending home sales rose 8% in May from the prior month and 13.1% from one year ago. The May 2021 Pending Home Sales Index of 114.7 is the highest reading for May since 2005. Contract signings rose in all regions in May compared to the prior month and one year ago.“
I agree the data looks wonky, but there is a method to the madness. Here is what is happening: The COVID-19 shutdowns paused sales during what looked to be a solid market going into the first few months of 2020. Once the fears of COVID-19 faded, the backup demand resulted in a straight vertical in sales data in the second half of 2020. Some of that make-up demand bled over into the early months of 2021. The weeks of stalled sales due to COVID-19 gave us a low bar to work from for 2021, so that is why the year-over-year data appears strong.