The numbers: A measure of pending home sales fell in October for the second month in a row, signaling the surprisingly strong surge in demand during the pandemic might be ebbing.
The index of pending home sales dropped 1.1% in October after a 2.2% decline in September, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.
While pending sales are still up 20% compared to a year earlier, rising home prices could be cutting into demand. Cooler weather and a record increase in U.S. coronavirus cases might also be hurting sales.
The index measures real-estate transactions in which a contract is signed, but the sale had not yet closed.
What happened: The South was the only major region to post an increase in pending sales, though just barely.
Pending sales posted the biggest decline in the Northeast.
The big picture: Record low mortgage rates and an increase in families leaving cities to escape the coronavirus have boosted home sales during the pandemic, leading to a flush in spending on furnishings and other related goods. The housing market has been a surprising bright spot for the economy.
Yet the spike in demand has reduced the inventory of homes for sale, which were already in short supply, to a historic low. That’s pushed up prices, discouraged would-be buyers — and could lead to softer sales in the future.
What they’re saying: “The housing market is still hot, but we may be starting to see rising home prices hurting affordability,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both fell in Monday trades.