Solid job growth and continuing low interest rates are helping to keep home sales strong. But low inventories, which put upward pressure on prices, remain a constraint. Home sales are on a 5.52 million sales pace, down a few percentage points from last summer. On the plus side, first-time buyers are continuing to make modest gains after years of staying on the sidelines.
Contracts are more likely to settle—and settle on time—than they were at the end of last year. A quarter of contracts were delayed in May, the most recent month analyzed, down from a third in October 2016. And only 2 percent of contracts failed to close, down from 6 percent. Other data from NAR suggest fewer financing contingencies could be a reason for the improvement.