Pending Home Sales Down in July

This morning the National Association of Realtors released the July data for their Pending Home Sales Index. Here is an excerpt from the latest press release:

WASHINGTON (August 30, 2021) – Pending home sales dipped modestly in July, noting two consecutive months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only the West region registered a month-over-month gain in contract activity, while the other three major U.S. regions reported drops. All four regions saw transactions decrease year-over-year.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI),* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, declined 1.8% to 110.7 in July. Year-over-year, signings fell 8.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

"The market may be starting to cool slightly, but at the moment there is not enough supply to match the demand from would-be buyers," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "That said, inventory is slowly increasing and home shoppers should begin to see more options in the coming months. (more here)

The chart below gives us a snapshot of the index since 2001. The MoM came in at -1.8%, down from a 2.0% decrease last month. Investing.com had forecast an increase of 0.4%.

Pending Home Sales

Over this time frame, the US population has grown by 16.7%. For a better look at the underlying trend, here is an overlay with the nominal index and the population-adjusted variant. The focus is pending home sales growth since 2001.

Pending Home Sales Growth

The index for the most recent month is currently 15% below its all-time high. The population-adjusted index is 22% off its high.

Pending versus Existing Home Sales

The NAR explains that "because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing-Home Sales by a month or two." Here is a growth overlay of the two series. The general correlation, as expected, is close. And a close look at the numbers supports the NAR's assessment that their pending sales series is a leading index.