Good to see the WSJ is on the job:
The National Association of Realtors is trumpeting a fourth consecutive monthly gain in their report of pending home sales. The index tracks the number of contracts signed on homes, which increased in May by just 0.1% from the previous month. Pending sales are up 6.7% from a year ago.[emphasis added]
In the past those contracts would give a pretty good indication of what existing home sales would look like when the NAR reports its May numbers a few weeks later. These days the report’s reliability as an indicator is shakier. More pending sales appear to be falling through, as financing becomes harder to reach or as buyers and sellers renege on pricing.
In April, for example, contracts signed on homes rose 6.7% from the previous month, but existing home sales in May—when a lot of those contracts should have closed and been reported—increased by just 2.4%. Indeed, for nearly a year, the pending home-sales index appears to be over-predicting closed sales relative to historical levels, notes independent housing economist Thomas Lawler.