Pending Home Sales Descend 3.9% in April
- Pending sales slid for the sixth consecutive month, down 3.9% in April from March.
- Pending sales rose in the Midwest and fell in the other three regions.
- Compared to the prior year, pending sales dropped for the eleventh consecutive month, with a 9.1% year-over-year drop and a decline in all regions.
WASHINGTON (May 26, 2022) – Pending home sales slipped in April, as contract activity decreased for the sixth consecutive month, the National Association of Realtors® reported. Only the Midwest region saw signings increase month-over-month, while the other three major regions reported declines. Each of the four regions registered a drop in year-over-year contract activity.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI),* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, slid 3.9% to 99.3 in April. Year-over-year, transactions fell 9.1%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
"Pending contracts are telling, as they better reflect the timelier impact from higher mortgage rates than do closings," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "The latest contract signings mark six consecutive months of declines and are at the slowest pace in nearly a decade."
With mortgage rates rising, Yun forecasts existing-home sales to wane by 9% in 2022 and home price appreciation to moderate to 5% by year's end.
"The escalating mortgage rates have bumped up the cost of purchasing a home by more than 25% from a year ago, while steeper home prices are adding another 15% to that figure."
In some cases, these higher rates increase mortgage payments by as much as $500 per month. Yun notes that such price hikes are already a burden, but they become even more problematic to a family on a budget contending with rapid inflation, including surging fuel and food costs.
"The vast majority of homeowners are enjoying huge wealth gains and are not under financial stress with their home as a result of having locked into historically low interest rates, or because they are not carrying a mortgage," Yun explained. "However – in this present market – potential homebuyers are challenged and thus may attempt to mitigate the rising cost of ownership by opting for a 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage or by widening their geographic search area to more affordable regions."
Yun cites that more work-from-home opportunities have allowed would-be buyers to expand their home search.
There are scenarios in which the market soon improves for buyers, as well, according to Yun.
"If mortgage rates stabilize roughly at the current level of 5.3% and job gains continue, home sales could also stabilize in the coming months," Yun said. "Home sales in 2022 are expected to be down about 9%, and if mortgage rates climb to 6%, then the sales activity could fall by 15%.
"Home prices in the meantime appear in no danger of any meaningful decline," he continued. "There is an ongoing housing shortage, and properly listed homes are still selling swiftly – generally seeing a contract signed within a month."
April Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
Month-over-month, the Northeast PHSI fell 16.20% to 74.8 in April, a 14.3% drop from a year ago. In the Midwest, the index rose 6.6% to 100.7 last month, down 2.8% from April 2021.
Pending home sales transactions in the South dipped 4.7% to an index of 119.0 in April, down 10.3% from April 2021. The index in the West slipped 4.3% in April to 85.9, a 10.5% decrease from a year prior.
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.
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*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 May will be reported June 21. The next Pending Home Sales Index will be June 27; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.