After reaching a record high in August, pending home sales slid for the third consecutive month, as fast-rising home prices and low inventory started to impede the housing market. Higher interest rates this week will present an additional challenge in future data.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), is a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts. The PHSI fell 2.6% from 129.1 in October to 125.7 in November, the highest level for November. However, on a year-over-year basis, sales were still 16.4% higher than a year ago.
All four regions saw a decline in month-over-month contract activity, ranging from 1.1% in the South to 4.7% in the West. On a year-over-year basis, all four regions saw double-digit year-over-year growths, ranging from 10.4% in the West to 21.3% in the South.
Despite the declines in these three months, pending home sales still outperformed this year and housing demand remained strong due to recent, low mortgage rates. However, rising home prices driven by record-low inventory may hurt affordability, especially first-time buyers. More listings and home construction are needed to meet this rising demand.