The trade association’s Pending Home Sales Index declined 10.2% in September, exceeding the 3.8% consensus from analysts. Pending transactions fell year-over-year by 31.0%.
“Persistent inflation has proven quite harmful to the housing market,” National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a press release. “The Federal Reserve has had to drastically raise interest rates to quell inflation, which has resulted in far fewer buyers and even fewer sellers.”
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate recently surpassed 7% as the central bank implements the most aggressive contractionary monetary regime in three decades. Yun noted that many homeowners who locked in mortgage rates below 3% prior to this year are unwilling to list their properties. Borrowers can expect monthly payments of roughly $2,000 on a $300,000 mortgage under current market conditions, marking an increase of more than $700 since one year ago.
Mortgage rates began to soar when the Federal Reserve hiked rate targets in both June and July. The ratio between average total monthly payments and median income surged to 43.3% as of August, exceeding levels witnessed before the 2008 housing crisis, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Meanwhile, home prices are falling at a record pace, as indicated by S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. Although prices are still elevated for the year, the metric reported annual gains at 13% in August, marking a decline from 15.6% in the previous month and the largest plummet in housing costs since the metric was created in 1987.
“As the Federal Reserve moves interest rates higher, mortgage financing becomes more expensive and housing becomes less affordable,” S&P Managing Director Craig Lazzara said in an analysis. “Given the continuing prospects for a challenging macroeconomic environment, home prices may well continue to decelerate.”
Indeed, the current economy is characterized by supply chain issues that have limited the availability of consumer goods and labor shortages that have presented difficulty to businesses attempting to fill their payrolls, both of which have contributed to record inflationary pressures. As voters prepare to cast their midterm ballots in less than two weeks, one survey from Rasmussen found that 60% of voters blame President Joe Biden and his policies for “increased inflation,” while only 13% of respondents believe the White House has been successful in taming high price levels.
National Association of Home Builders Chairman Jerry Konter recently condemned the administration for taking an economic victory lap and claiming that the most recent inflation report “shows some progress in the fight against higher prices,” noting that shelter costs account for nearly one-third of the total rise in price levels.
“If President Biden is truly serious about fighting inflation, he needs to address the nation’s growing housing affordability crisis,” he said in a statement two weeks ago. “Acknowledging and getting serious about tackling the nation’s housing affordability crisis will go a long way to reining in stubbornly high inflation and reduce the economic pain of millions of American families.”