WASHINGTON (October 26, 2023) – Pending home sales augmented 1.1% in September, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. The Northeast, Midwest and South posted monthly gains in transactions while the West experienced a loss. All four U.S. regions had year-over-year declines in transactions.
“Despite the slight gain, pending contracts remain at historically low levels due to the highest mortgage rates in 20 years,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Furthermore, inventory remains tight, which hinders sales but keeps home prices elevated.”
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* – a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings – rose 1.1% to 72.6 in September. Year over year, pending transactions declined 11%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
NAR forecasts that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 6.9% for 2023 and decrease to an average of 6.3% in 2024, while the unemployment rate will lower to 3.7% in 2023 before increasing to 4.1% in 2024.
NAR predicts existing-home sales will decrease 17.5% in 2023, settling at 4.15 million, before rising 13.5%, to 4.71 million in 2024. Compared to last year, national median existing-home prices are projected to remain stable in 2023 – edging higher by 0.1% to $386,700, before increasing by 0.7% next year, to $389,500. Housing starts will drop 10.4% from 2022 to 2023, to 1.39 million, before rising to 1.48 million, or 6.5%, in 2024.
“Because of homebuilders’ ability to create more inventory, new-home sales could be higher this year despite increasing mortgage rates. This underscores the importance of increased inventory in helping to get the overall housing market moving,” said Yun.
NAR expects newly constructed home sales will grow from last year by 4.5% in 2023, to 670,000 – because of additional inventory in this market segment – and increase by another 19.4% in 2024, to 800,000. The national median new home price will drop by 5.9% this year, to $430,800, and improve by 3.5% next year, to $445,800.
Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
The Northeast PHSI increased 0.8% from last month to 63.1, a loss of 12.7% from September 2022. The Midwest index expanded 4.1% to 74.3 in September, down 9.2% from one year ago.
The South PHSI rose 0.7% to 87.1 in September, retreating 10.7% from the prior year. The West index declined 1.8% in September to 55.3, dropping 12.9% from September 2022.
“Sales are expected to turn positive by early next year, with affordable regions and fast job-creating markets in better positions to recover, led by the Midwest and South,” added Yun.
About the National Association of REALTORS®
The National Association of REALTORS® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
# # #
*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.
NOTE: Existing-Home Sales for October will be reported November 21. The next Pending Home Sales Index will be released November 30. All release times are 10 a.m. Eastern. View the NAR Statistical News Release Schedule.