Pending home sales rose for the first time in six consecutive months, thanks in part to lower interest rates. Economist Yun says home sales’ low point “is likely over.”
WASHINGTON – December pending home sales increased for the first time since May 2022, breaking a report-after-report decline that lasted six consecutive months.
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the Northeast and Midwest recorded month-over-month declines, while the South and West posted monthly gains. However, all four U.S. regions saw year-over-year drops in transactions, with the West having the largest decline at 37.5%.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) – a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings – improved 2.5% to 76.9 in December. Year-over-year, pending transactions dropped 33.8%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
“This recent low point in home sales activity is likely over,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Mortgage rates are the dominant factor driving home sales, and recent declines in rates are clearly helping to stabilize the market.”
Pending home sales regional breakdown: The Northeast PHSI dropped 6.5% from last month to 64.7, a decrease of 32.5% from December 2021. The Midwest index shrank 0.3% to 77.6 in December, a decline of 30.1% from one year ago.
The South PHSI rose 6.1% to 94.1 in December, dropping 34.5% from the prior year. The West index advanced 6.4% in December to 58.6, decreasing 37.5% from December 2021.
“The new normal for mortgage rates will likely be in the 5.5% to 6.5% range,” Yun says. “Job gains will steadily become important in driving local home-sales markets. The South, in particular, is set to outperform the rest of the country, thanks primarily to better job market conditions … compared to other regions.”
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