NAR released a summary of pending home sales data showing that December’s pending home sales pace was down 2.2 percent last month and fell 9.8 percent from a year ago.
Pending sales represent homes that have a signed contract to purchase on them but have yet to close. They tend to lead existing-home sales data by 1 to 2 months.
All four regions showed declines from a year ago. The South had the biggest drop in sales of 13.5 percent. The West fell 10.8 percent followed by the Midwest with a decline of 7.2 percent. The Northeast had the smallest dip in sales of 2.5 percent.
From last month, three of the four regions showed declines in contract signings. The South region had the biggest drop of 5.0 percent. The Northeast fell 2.0 percent followed by the Midwest with a dip of 0.6 percent. The only region with an incline in contract signings was the West, which had a gain of 1.7 percent.
The U.S. pending home sales index level for the month was 99.0. November’s data was revised up to 101.2.
December’s decline was the the pending index’s first drop below the 100 mark after 55 consecutive months over the 100 level.
The 100 level is based on a 2001 benchmark and is consistent with a healthy market and existing home sales above the 5 million mark.