WASHINGTON (February 27, 2023) – Pending home sales improved in January for the second consecutive month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. All four U.S. regions posted monthly gains but saw year-over-year drops in transactions.
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. Year-over-year, pending transactions dropped by 24.1%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
“Buyers responded to better affordability from falling mortgage rates in December and January,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
NAR anticipates the economy will continue to add jobs throughout 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.
With an improving interest rate environment and job gains, Yun still expects annual existing-home sales to drop 11.1% in 2023 to a total of 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, before incremental improvements will occur,” Yun said. “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 median existing-home prices will be stable compared to the previous year for most markets — with the national median home price decreasing 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 Home 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 added.
The National Association of REALTORS® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
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*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing. Pending contracts are good early indicators of upcoming sales closings. However, the amount of time between pending contracts and completed sales is not identical for all home sales. Variations in the length of the process from pending contract to closed sale can be caused by issues such as buyer difficulties with obtaining mortgage financing, home inspection problems, or appraisal issues.
The index is based on a sample that covers about 40% of multiple listing service data each month. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.
NOTE: Existing-Home Sales for February will be reported on March 21. The next Pending Home Sales Index will be on March 29. All release times are 10 a.m. Eastern. View the NAR Statistical News Release Schedule.