Closing out 2023, pending home sales in November were identical to those in October, according to the National Association of REALTORS.

The Northeast, Midwest, and West posted monthly gains in transactions while the South recorded a loss. All four U.S. regions registered year-over-year declines in transactions.

The Sales Index

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* – a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings – stayed at 71.6 in November. Year over year, pending transactions were down 5.2%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

“Although declining mortgage rates did not induce more homebuyers to submit formal contracts in November, it has sparked a surge in interest, as evidenced by a higher number of lockbox openings,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist in a news release.

Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown

The Northeast PHSI rose 0.8% from last month to 64.4, a drop of 6.4% from November 2022. The Midwest index increased 0.5% to 76.2 in November, down 2.2% from one year ago.

The South PHSI declined 2.3% to 83.2 in November, decreasing 6.5% from the prior year. The West index climbed 4.2% in November to 54.0, falling 4.9% from November 2022.

“With mortgage rates falling further in December – leading to savings of around $300 per month from the recent cyclical peak in rates – home sales will improve in 2024,” Yun added.

Methodology

*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.

Source: NAR