The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy existing homes in November
was essentially unchanged from October, suggesting sales are stabilizing after
several months of declines.
The National Association of Realtors said
Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index ticked up to 101.7
from 101.5 in October. The October figure was revised lower from an initial
reading of 102.1.
Higher mortgage rates and strong price gains over the
past two years have slowed sales. The pending home sales index had fallen for
five straight months before November. And completed sales of existing homes fell
for three straight months, the Realtors said earlier this month. There is
generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed
“Bottom line, it’s clear that the rise in mortgage rates slowed
the pace of improvement in the housing market in addition to double digit price
increases and tough lending standards, which have put a pause particularly on
those buying a home with a mortgage,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst
with The Lindsey Group, in a research note.
The average interest rate on
a 30-year mortgage edged higher to 4.48 percent last week, from 4.47 percent the
previous week. Rates jumped about 1.25 percentage points from May through
September, peaking at 4.6 percent.