Pending Home Sales Plummet 7.1% in August
The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) released the latest monthly data for its pending home sales index. The index plummeted 7.1% in August to 71.8, a larger decline than the expected -0.8% decrease. This is the lowest reading for the index since April 2020 and is the second lowest figure in the historical series. Pending home sales are down 18.7% compared to one year ago.
"Mortgage rates have been rising above 7% since August, which has diminished the pool of home buyers," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Some would-be home buyers are taking a pause and readjusting their expectations about the location and type of home to better fit their budgets."
"It's clear that increased housing inventory and better interest rates are essential to revive the housing market," added Yun.
"The Federal Reserve must consider the sharply decelerating rent growth in its consideration of future monetary policy. There is no need to raise interest rates. "Moreover, the government shutdown will disrupt some home sales in the short run due to the lack of flood insurance or delays in government-backed mortgage issuance," said Yun.
Pending Home Sales Background
The pending home sales index (PHSI) was created by the National Association of Relators to track home sales where the contract is signed, but the transaction has not yet closed. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001. The PHSI is a leading economic indicator of future existing home sales.
The chart below gives us a snapshot of the index since 2001, the first year data was analyzed.
Over this time frame, the US population has grown by 18.1%. 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.
The above chart shows the percent off turn-of-the-century values. The index for the most recent month is currently 46% below its all-time high from August 2020. The population-adjusted index is 50% off its high from July 2005.