Pending home sales increased in November, rebounding from the prior month’s decline, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The West region reported the highest growth last month, while the other three major U.S. regions saw only marginal variances in month-over-month contract activity. Pending home sales were up nationally and up in all regions compared to one year ago.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 1.2% to 108.5 in November. Year-over-year contract signings jumped 7.4%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
“Despite the insufficient level of inventory, pending home contracts still increased in November,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, noting that housing inventory has been in decline for six straight months dating back to June 2019. “The favorable conditions are expected throughout 2020 as well, but supply is not yet meeting the healthy demand.”
At the recent NAR Real Estate Forecast Summit, the consensus forecast called for a 2.0% GDP growth, a 3.7% unemployment rate and a 3.8% average mortgage rate in 2020. Home prices were projected to rise by 3.6% in 2020 after a 5% gain in 2019.
“Sale prices continue to rise, but I am hopeful that we will see price appreciation slow in 2020,” said Yun. “Builder confidence levels are high, so we just need housing supply to match and more home construction to take place in the coming year.”
November Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
The regional indices had mixed results in November. The Northeast PHSI slid 0.1% to 96.3 in November, 2.6% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest, the index rose 1.0% to 102.5 last month, 5.0% higher than in November 2018.
Pending home sales in the South decreased by 0.2% to an index of 125.0 in November, a 7.7% increase from last November. The index in the West grew 5.5% in November 2019 to 98.4, an increase of 14.0% from a year ago.
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
*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.
The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20% of transactions for existing-home sales. 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.