Pending home sales retreated in October, taking a slight step back after two prior months of increases, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The Northeast experienced a minor uptick last month, but the other three major U.S. regions reported declines in month-over-month contract activity. However, pending home sales were up nationally and up in all regions compared to a year ago.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 1.7% to 106.7 in October. Year-over-year contract signings jumped 4.4%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
With the exception of the Northeast, all regional indices saw declines in October. The PHSI in the Northeast rose 1.9% to 95.7 in October, 3.0% higher than a year ago. In the Midwest, the index slid 2.7% to 101.4 last month, 1.8% higher than in October 2018.
Pending home sales in the South decreased 1.7% to an index of 125.3 in October, a 5.1% increase from last October. The index in the West declined 3.4% in October 2019 to 91.9, which is an increase of 7.5% from a year ago.
This was below expectations for this index. Note: Contract signings usually lead sales by about 45 to 60 days, so this would usually be for closed sales in November and December.