NAR: Pending Home Sales Rose 1.6% in August
WASHINGTON – Pending home sales reversed course in August after a prior month of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Each of the four major regions in the study reported both month-over-month growth and year-over-year gains in contract activity.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) – a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings – climbed 1.6% to 107.3 in August, reversing the prior month’s decrease. Year-over-year contract signings jumped 2.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity.
“It is very encouraging that buyers are responding to exceptionally low interest rates,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The notable sales slump in the West region over recent years appears to be over. Rising demand will reaccelerate home price appreciation in the absence of more supply.
Regional breakdown: All regional indices were up compared to July, with the highest gain in the West region. The PHSI in the Northeast rose 1.4% to 94.3 and is now 0.7% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest, the index increased 0.6% to 101.7 in August, 0.2% higher than August 2018.
Pending home sales in the South increased 1.4% to an index of 124.4 in August, a 1.8% bump from last August. The index in the West grew 3.1% to 96.4, an increase of 8.0% from a year ago.
Yun says that historically low interest rates will affect economic growth, especially home buying, going forward.
“With interest rates expected to remain low, home sales are forecasted to rise in the coming months and into 2020,” says Yun. “Unfortunately, so far in 2019, new home construction is down 2.0%. The hope is that housing starts quickly move into higher gear to meet the higher demand. Moreover, broader economic growth will strengthen from increased housing activity.”
NAR forecasts home sales to rise 0.6% in 2019 and another 3.4% in 2020. Housing starts are predicted to increase by 2.0% in 2019 and jump an additional 10.6% in 2020, which in turn raises GDP to growth at 2.0% in 2020.
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