Pending home sales lagged unexpectedly for the fourth consecutive month.

Pending Home Sales Slumped in February

Rather than having one culprit, limited inventory, poking its sharp elbow into pending homes sales, the real estate market is now faced with an additional troublemaker, increasing borrowing costs.

The National Association of REALTORS’® (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index dropped -4.1% m/m to an almost two-year low of 104.9.


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Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said, “Pending transactions diminished in February mainly due to the low number of homes for sale.  It is still an extremely competitive market, but fast-changing conditions regarding affordability are ahead.”

Mortgage Payments Now Reflecting Market Conditions

Limited inventory continues to push asking prices higher.  Interest rates on a typical 30-year fixed mortgage stood at a three-year high of 4.5% (and rising) in March.  The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time since 2018 in mid-March and is expected to increase rates between 0.25% – 0.50% five more times during this year.  And central bankers are projected to continue tightening lending standards in light of a four-decade high inflation rate.

The result of all these provocative market conditions?  Higher rates and sustained price appreciation have driven up mortgage payments +28% y/y, according to NAR.

Additional Causal Results

“The surge in home prices combined with rising mortgage rates can easily translate into another $200 to $300 in mortgage payments per month, which is a major strain for many families already on tight budgets,” said NAR’s Yun.

Pending Sales by Region

Pending contract signings looked like this regionally:

  • Midwest – -6%
  • West – -5.4%
  • South – -4.4%
  • Northeast – +1.9%

Overall pending home contract sales fell -5.4% y/y.

Existing-homes sales dropped to a six-month low in February as well.

Grim Signs for Spring Selling Season?

The jump in mortgage rates is coming at the housing market’s busiest season. Rates began rising in January and continued doing so in February.  Now, the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is more than a full percentage point higher than it was during this time period last year.

The median monthly payment on a new mortgage jumped +8.3% in February compared with January and is +22% higher than it was in February 2021, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).  The MBA added that the monthly mortgage payment for borrowers on the lower end of the market is up nearly +10% m/m.

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage spiked 73-basis points from December 2021 through February 2022.  Together with increased loan application amounts, a mortgage applicant’s median principal and interest payment in February jumped from $127 from January and $337 from one year ago,” said Edward Seiler, MBA’s associate vice president of housing economics.

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