U.S. Pending Home Sales Rose 0.9% in July for the Second Monthly Rise Defying Analysts

US pending home sales rose unexpectedly by 0.9% in July month-over-month beating market expectations of a 1.3% fall after they increased by a revised 0.4% (from 0.3%) in June. The rise was the second in a row after falling for four months as the housing market struggles with high interest rates with unprecedented rate hikes delivered by the Fed. Additionally, there is limited supply. Contract signings rose in the South and West, while experiencing a decrease in the Northeast and Midwest.

For perspective year-on-year, pending home sales are down by 14.0%, although at a slower rate than the previous month and marking a 26th straight month of declines.  All four U.S. regions saw year-over-year declines in transactions.


National Association of Realtors® Pending Home Sales

July 2023 Highlights

  • US Pending Home Sales (M/M) Jul: 0.9% (exp -1.0%; PrevR 0.4%)
  • Pending Home Sales (Y/Y) Jul: -13.8% (exp -15.7%; PrevR -14.7%)
United States Pending Home Sales MoM

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* – a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

“The small gain in contract signings shows the potential for further increases in light of the fact that many people have lost out on multiple home buying offers,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Jobs are being added and, thereby, enlarging the pool of prospective home buyers. However, rising mortgage rates and limited inventory have temporarily hindered the possibility of buying for many.”

Pending Home Sales by Region

  • The Northeast PHSI shrank 5.8% from last month to 63.2, a decrease of 20.2% from July 2022.
  • The Midwest index fell 0.4% to 77.5 in July, down 16.0% from one year ago.
  • The South PHSI lifted 2.0% to 95.3 in July, declining 10.9% from the prior year.
  • The West index improved 6.2% in July to 61.3, dropping 12.8% from July 2022.

“Interestingly, the West region experienced a meaningful price decline in the past year and buyers are quickly returning as a result,” Yun added.

NAR Forecasts

NAR forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will hit 6.4% in 2023, followed by 6.0% in 2024. While median home sales will decrease 12.9% from 2022 to 2023 (4.38 million), they will climb 15.5% in 2024 (5.06 million).

NAR expects existing-home sales to decrease 12.9% from 2022 to 2023, settling at 4.38 million, before climbing 15.5%, to 5.06 million in 2024. Compared to last year, national median existing-home prices will remain steady – declining 0.4%, to $384,900, before rebounding by 2.6% next year, to $395,000. The West – the country’s most expensive region – will see reduced prices while the more affordable Midwest region is likely to see a small, positive increase. Housing starts will drop 5.3% from 2022 to 2023, to 1.47 million, before increasing to 1.55 million, or 5.4%, in 2024.

“It is critical to expand supply as much as possible to widen access to homebuying for more Americans,” Yun said. “Home prices will be influenced by how much inventory is brought to market. Increased homebuilding will tame price growth, while limited construction will lead to home price appreciation outpacing income growth.”

Newly constructed home sales will increase from last year by 12.3% in 2023, to 720,000 – due to additional inventory in this segment of the market – and increase by another 13.9% in 2024, to 820,000. The national median new home price will decrease by 1.9% this year, to $449,100, and then improve by 4.2% next year, to $468,000.

About Pending Home Sales

*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.

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.

Source: NAR

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