From the WSJ:
The number of existing homes that went under contract in the U.S. inched up in October, a sign the housing market remains stable heading into the final months of the year.
An index measuring pending home sales—a gauge of purchases before they become final—rose 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted reading of 107.7 in October, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a 1.5% increase in October sales. September’s reading was revised to a 1.6% decline from an initially estimated 2.3% drop. The index peaked for the year in May and has mostly edged down since.
It typically takes a month or two for a home purchase to be completed. When the sale is finalized, it is registered in the Realtors’ more closely watched existing-home sales report. That report showed sales of previously owned homes, roughly 90% of the overall housing market, reached a post-recession peak of a 5.58 million annual pace in July, and hovered slightly below that level this fall.
The industry group said the pace of sales plateaued in recent months because buyers are finding a small number of available homes and prices are rising quickly in some markets.
“In the most competitive metro areas—particularly those in the South and West—affordability concerns remain heightened as low inventory continues to drive up prices,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist.
Monday’s report showed pending home sale were up 3.9% from a year earlier in October.
On the month, sales increased in the Northeast and West, but fell in the South and Midwest.