NAR: Pending Sales Up for 2nd Month in a Row
Jan. pending sales rose 8.1% month-to-month as mortgage rates fell and affordability increased; however, pending sales were still down 24.1% year-to-year.
WASHINGTON – Pending home sales improved in January for the second consecutive month, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). All four U.S. regions included in the analysis posted monthly transaction gains but saw year-over-year drops.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) – a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings – improved 8.1% to 82.5 in January, while year-over-year, pending transactions dropped 24.1%. An index of 100 equals the level of contract activity in 2001.
“Buyers responded to better affordability from falling mortgage rates in December and January,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
Yun expects the economy to continue to adding jobs in 2023 and 2024, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate steadily dropping to an average of 6.1% in 2023 and 5.4% in 2024.
Even with an improving interest rate environment and job gains, though, Yun “ Yun expects annual existing-home sales to drop 11.1% in 2023 (4.47 million units) before jumping 17.7% in 2024 (5.26 million units). NAR projects new-home sales will fall 3.7% year-over-year in 2023 before growing 19.4% in 2024.
“Home sales activity looks to be bottoming out in the first quarter of this year,” Yun sales. He expects “incremental improvements” after that. But “an annual gain in home sales will not occur until 2024. Meanwhile, home prices will be steady in most parts of the country with a minor change in the national median home price.”
NAR also predicts home prices to remain stable this year compared to last year. It predicts the national median home price will decrease nationally by 1.6% in 2023 to $380,100, before regaining positive traction of 3.1% in 2024, to $391,800. It estimates median new-home prices will increase by 1.3% in 2023, to $461,000, and increase by 2.8% in 2024, to $474,000, due to higher costs of land and construction materials.
Pending sales regional breakdown: The Northeast PHSI rose 6.0% from last month to 68.7, a decline of 19.8% from January 2022. The Midwest index grew 7.9% to 83.3 in January, a drop of 21.1% from one year ago.
The South PHSI increased 8.3% to 99.2 in January, dipping 24.7% from the prior year. The West index elevated 10.1% in January to 66.2, diminishing 29.3% from January 2022.
“An extra bump occurred in the West region because of lower home prices, while gains in the South were due to stronger job growth in that region,” Yun says.
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