Pending home sales shrunk 2.7% in May from the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Three U.S. regions posted monthly losses, while sales in the Northeast surged.

Declining Transactions Abound

In fact, all four regions saw year-over-year declines in transactions. Here’s what the experts have to say:

“Despite sluggish pending contract signings, the housing market is resilient with approximately three offers for each listing,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a news release, “The lack of housing inventory continues to prevent housing demand from being fully realized.”

Index

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)* – a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings – dropped 2.7% to 76.5 in May. Year over year, pending transactions fell by 22.2%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

“It is encouraging that homebuilders have ramped up production, but the supply from new construction takes time and remains insufficient,” added Yun. “There should be more focus on boosting existing-home inventory with temporary tax incentive measures.”

Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown

The Northeast PHSI climbed 12.9% from last month to 66.7, a decrease of 21.9% from May 2022. The Midwest index dropped 5.3% to 74.4 in May, down 23.5% from one year ago.

The South PHSI decreased by 4.4% to 94.4 in May, reducing 19.6% from the prior year. The West index lessened 6.1% in May to 58.4, falling 26.6% from May 2022.

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