Pending home sales drop to a record low, even worse than during the financial crisis
There was a sharp decline in pending home sales in March, according to the National Association of Realtors, falling to their lowest level since records began in 2001 and bringing the index to a record low, even worse than during the financial crisis. The housing market, considered a bellwether of the economy, was already in distress as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted employment and consumer confidence. The possible end of the home buying season—typically April-June—leaves an uncertain future for home sales even with easing restrictions on showings, home inspections and appraisals. The low level of mortgage rates is fostering some resilience but sales are still weak compared even to the depths of the Great Recession. Efforts like government and Federal Reserve stimulus packages, improved access to lenders, and government assurances of possible payment holidays for mortgage holders amid the crisis could help expedite a recovery in housing.