Pending home-sales index falls 2.8%
WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans signed contracts to purchase homes last month as rising prices, higher mortgage rates and a dwindling supply of available homes appeared to frustrate many potential buyers, especially in the West.
The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home-sales index fell 2.8 percent to 106.4, the lowest level in a year.
The decline suggests that higher mortgage rates, which have risen by about a half-percentage point since the presidential election, may be starting to bite into sales. And the number of homes for sale has fallen to near-record lows, forcing many would-be buyers to bid up prices. The combination of higher prices and rising mortgage rates are making homes less affordable.
These trends are apparent in the regional data. The pending home-sales index in the West plunged 9.8 percent in January and is now slightly below where it was a year ago. The West includes some of the highest-priced housing markets in the country, particularly San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. The sharp decline in that region suggests some of those markets could be starting to cool.