The data actually make sense when you consider the time lags and what these surveys measure.
Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes fell in November, unexpectedly, according to the National Association of Realtors in Washington. Pending home sales declined by 2.5% after a 0.1% increase in October.
This may seem out of step with news that purchases of new U.S. homes rose in November to the second-fastest pace in almost nine years, but it’s not.
The surge in new home sales came as buyers rushed to complete deals before mortgage rates rose. The drop in pending sales comes as prospective buyers, looking at the recent increase in mortgage rates, decide they can’t afford a mortgage or figure that mortgage rates might drop lower in the near future.
Existing home sales are projected at 5.42 million in 2016. That’s up form 5.25 million in 2015 and the strongest since 2006.
But that’s history–and the big question is how much the increase in mortgage rates from the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates on December 14 will slow home sales in 2017.
I’m spending so much time on these changes in new and existing home sales because housing is one of the most interest rate sensitive sectors of the U.S. economy.
And because the Federal Reserve’s decision on how fast to raise interest rates in 2017 depends on how big a slowdown higher rates cause in the U.S. economy in the next half year or so.