It’s fall and that means cider, apples and football games. It also when many people will be hunting for a new home, and it’s a good time to do so. Pending home sales increased in August, after a prior month of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Each of the four major regions reported month-over-month growth and year-over-year gains in contract activity, according to an NAR news release.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) which is considered 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 in the news release. “The notable sales slump in the West region over recent years appears to be over. Rising demand will reaccelerate home price
August Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown
All regional indices are up from July, as well, 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, according to NAR.
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,” Yun added in the news release. “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 said it 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.
Source: National Association of Realtors
*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.