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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) – U.S. pending home sales fell for the fourth straight month in September, as higher interest rates continued to hit potential buyers, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday.

NAR’s index of the annual rate of pending sales, which points to the pace of actual sales in the coming months, dropped from a downwardly revised 107.6 in August to 101.6 last month, its lowest level since December 2012.

The index was 1.2 percent lower than a year ago.

“This tells us to expect lower home sales for the fourth quarter, with a flat trend going into 2014,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

The NAR blamed the slowdown on higher mortgage interest rates and higher home prices. Home loan rates surged more than one percentage point from May to July after the Federal Reserve signaled it was likely to slow its stimulus program for the economy.

But rates eased in September and October as the Fed held off from the much-expected “taper” and the 16-day partial government shutdown in the first half of this month likely took some strength from economic growth.

Yun said the shutdown contributed to general uncertainty that “curbs major expenditures such as home purchases.”

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.