Pending Home Sales Grow 1.6% in August

WASHINGTON (September 26, 2019) – Pending home sales increased in August, a welcome rebound after a prior month of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Each of the four major regions reported both month-over-month growth and year-over-year gains in contract activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI),* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, climbed 1.6% to 107.3 in August, reversing the prior month’s decrease. Year-over-year contract signings jumped 2.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity.

“It is very encouraging that buyers are responding to exceptionally low interest rates,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The notable sales slump in the West region over recent years appears to be over. Rising demand will reaccelerate home price appreciation in the absence of more supply.”

August Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown

All regional indices are up from July, with the highest gain in the West region. The PHSI in the Northeast rose 1.4% to 94.3 in August and is now 0.7% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest, the index increased 0.6% to 101.7 in August, 0.2% higher than August 2018. 

Pending home sales in the South increased 1.4% to an index of 124.4 in August, a 1.8% bump from last August. The index in the West grew 3.1% in August 2019 to 96.4, an increase of 8.0% from a year ago.

Yun noted that historically low interest rates will affect economic growth, especially home buying, going forward.

“With interest rates expected to remain low, home sales are forecasted to rise in the coming months and into 2020,” said Yun. “Unfortunately, so far in 2019, new home construction is down 2.0%. The hope is that housing starts quickly move into higher gear to meet the higher demand. Moreover, broader economic growth will strengthen from increased housing activity.”

The National Association of Realtors® is forecasting home sales to rise 0.6% in 2019 and another 3.4% in 2020. Housing starts are predicted to increase by 2.0% in 2019 and jump an additional 10.6% in 2020, which in turn raises GDP to growth at 2.0% in 2020.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 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.

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.

NOTE: NAR’s September Housing Minute video will be released on September 30, Existing-Home Sales for September will be reported October 22, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be October 29; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

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