September Pending Home Sales Slide for Second Consecutive Month

House for Sale
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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Thursday morning released its data on pending sales of existing homes for September. The pending home sales index dropped by 2.3% to 106.8 from a revised August reading of 109.3. The index has fallen for two consecutive months. The September reading is up 3% year over year.

The consensus estimate called for a month-over-month increase of 1% in pending sales. The index reflects signed contracts, not sales closings. An index reading of 100 equals the average level of contract signings during 2001.

The index has been above 100 (the “average” reading) for 12 straight months.

The NAR’s chief economist noted:

There continues to be a dearth of available listings in the lower end of the market for first–time buyers, and Realtors® in many areas are reporting stronger competition than what’s normal this time of year because of stubbornly–low inventory conditions. Additionally, the rockiness in the financial markets at the end of the summer and signs of a slowing U.S. economy may be causing some prospective buyers to take a wait–and–see approach.

By region, home sales decreased by 4% to an index score of 89.6 in the Northeast but remains 3.9% higher than in September of 2014. In the South, sales fell 2.6% to an index score of 118.3, still up 4.3% over a year ago.

Sales rose by 0.2% in the West to an index score of 104.4, and are now up 6.6% compared with August 2014. Sales in the Midwest declined 2.5% to a September index score of 104.7, still 4.3% higher than a year ago.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types in 2015 is expected to increase around 5.8% to $221,900, up by $1,600 from the August projection. Total existing-home sales this year are forecast to increase 4.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million, about 22% below the prior peak set in 2005 (7.08 million), but up from a total of 5.3 million projected in July.

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