It could be a long summer for builders and real estate agents.

With the economy still shaky and the tax credit expired, consumers are hanging back on home purchases, based on data released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The reading for its pending home-sales index declined 2.6% in June compared to the previous month, indicating that buyers no longer feel the sense of urgency that they did this spring, despite historically low interest rates below 5% and relative bargains in terms of home prices.

Compared to June 2009, the index looked even weaker, posting a reading that was 18.6% lower than the same month one year ago.

One major obstacle to a healthier housing industry is the job situation; the unemployment rate climbed to a stomach-turning 9.6% in June. “We really need to see stronger job creation to have a meaningful recovery in the housing markets,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said.

Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.