WASHINGTON, D.C.—Pending home sales slid for the fifth consecutive month in October, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Three of four U.S. regions recorded month-over-month decreases, and all four regions recorded year-over-year declines in transactions.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)*, www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, sank 4.6% to 77.1 in October. Year-over-year, pending transactions slipped by 37.0%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
“October was a difficult month for home buyers as they faced 20-year-high mortgage rates,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The West region, in particular, suffered from the combination of high interest rates and expensive home prices. Only the Midwest squeaked out a gain.”
“The upcoming months should see a return of buyers, as mortgage rates appear to have already peaked and have been coming down since mid-November.”
Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
The Northeast PHSI sank 4.3% from last month to 68.7, a fall of 29.5% from October 2021. The Midwest index increased 3.3% to 83.5 in October, a decrease of 32.1% from one year ago.
The South PHSI dropped 6.4% to 90.6 in October, falling 38.2% from the prior year. The West index slipped by 11.3% in October to 55.6, sinking 46.2% from October 2021.
*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.”
Pending contracts are good early indicators of upcoming sales closings. However, the amount of time between pending contracts and completed sales is not identical for all home sales. Variations in the length of the process from pending contract to closed sale can be caused by issues such as buyer difficulties with obtaining mortgage financing, home inspection problems, or appraisal issues.
The index is based on a sample that covers about 40% of multiple listing service data each month. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.