Pending homes sales dipped in September

Decline in contract activity suggests sales will fall in coming months

The decline in contract activity may signal a drop in sales in the coming months (iStock)
The decline in contract activity may signal a drop in sales in the coming months (iStock)

After four months of growth, the number of U.S. homes going into contract declined in September, indicating a slowdown in homebuyer demand.

A National Association of Realtors index of pending home sales dropped 2.2 percent last month, compared to August.

NAR’s index tracks signed contract activity for single-family homes, condo and co-op units, and is seen as an indicator of future sales of existing homes.

Though September’s numbers represented a month-over-month dip, the index was up a substantial 20.5 percent from September 2019.

The only region of the country that bucked the trend was the Northeast, where pending home sales rose 2 percent last month from August. All regions posted year-over-year gains.

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Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said that the housing market was still on track to end 2020 with more sales than in 2019.

“With persistent low mortgage rates and some degree of a continuing jobs recovery, more contract signings are expected in the near future,” he said in a statement.

Yun also said he expects a “second-order demand” to emerge among homeowners who may not have considered moving during the pandemic but want to trade up to larger homes.

Existing homes sales hit a record high with 6.5 million sold last month, although new home sales were down 3.5 percent in August. For both newly built and existing homes, prices have continued to climb as inventory levels remain at unprecedented low levels.