Pending Home Sales Unchanged in September

This morning the National Association of Realtors released the August data for their Pending Home Sales Index. Here is an excerpt from the latest press release:

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the quest to buy a home this fall continues to be a challenging endeavor for many home shoppers. “Demand exceeds supply in most markets, which is keeping price growth high and essentially eliminating any savings buyers would realize from the decline in mortgage rates from earlier this year,” he said. “While most of the country, except for the South, did see minor gains in contract signings last month, activity is falling further behind last year's pace because new listings aren't keeping up with what's being sold.”

Added Yun, “Hurricane Irma's direct hit on Florida weighed on activity in the South, but similar to how Houston has rebounded after Hurricane Harvey, Florida's strong job and population growth should guide sales back to their pre-storm pace fairly quickly.” As has been the case most of the year, Yun says the ongoing supply constraints continue to squeeze prospective buyers the most at the lower end of the market. Last month, first-time buyers were 29 percent of all transactions, which matched the lowest share in exactly two years1. Furthermore, existing sales were down notably on an annual basis in the price range below $250,000, but up solidly the higher up the price bracket2. (more here).

The chart below gives us a snapshot of the index since 2001. The MoM was unchanged. Investing.com had a forecast of 0.2%.

Pending Home Sales

Over this time frame, the US population has grown by 14.8%. For a better look at the underlying trend, here is an overlay with the nominal index and the population-adjusted variant. The focus is pending home sales growth since 2001.

Pending Home Sales Growth

The index for the most recent month is 17% below its all-time high in 2005. The population-adjusted index is 24% off its 2005 high.

Pending versus Existing Home Sales

The NAR explains that "because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing Home Sales by a month or two." Here is a growth overlay of the two series. The general correlation, as expected, is close. And a close look at the numbers supports the NAR's assessment that their pending sales series is a leading index.

Pending Home Sales Growth