(Bloomberg) -- US pending home sales stagnated in April as high mortgage rates paired with limited inventory continued to curb buyer demand. 

The National Association of Realtors’ index of contract signings to purchase previously owned homes held at 78.9 last month, according to data released Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1% advance. 

“Not all buying interests are being completed due to limited inventory,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement. “Affordability challenges certainly remain and continue to hold back contract signings, but a sizeable increase in housing inventory will be critical to get more Americans moving.”

Faltering sales in the Northeast offset small increases in the rest of the country. From a year earlier, US home purchases were down nearly 23% on an unadjusted basis.

Mortgage rates are on the rise again. Last week, the contract rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to a two-month high of 6.69%. And with the labor market still strong and inflation elevated, consensus is growing that the Federal Reserve is not yet finished hiking interest rates. 

Recently released data showed existing-home sales eased to a three-month low in April. New-home purchases, which aren’t facing the same acute shortages of listings, continued to climb to the highest level since March 2022. 

The pending home sales report is often seen as a leading indicator of existing-home sales given houses typically go under contract a month or two before they’re sold.

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