WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in November as higher mortgage rates and prices continued to squeeze would-be buyers out of the market.
The National Association of Realtors said Friday that its pending home sales index dipped 0.7 percent last month to 101.4. The index based on contract signings has dropped 7.7 percent over the past year and has recorded 11 straight year-over-year decreases.
The rate on benchmark 30-year, fixed rate mortgages was 4.55 percent this week, down from 4.62 percent last week but up from 3.99 percent a year ago.
"The latest decline in contract signings implies more short-term pullback in the housing sector," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.
All four U.S. regions have reported annual drops in pending home sales: The West is down 12.2 percent, the South 7.4 percent, the Midwest 7 percent and the Northeast 3.5 percent. From October to November, sales rose 2.8 percent in the West and 2.7 percent in the Northeast but fell 2.7 percent in the South and 2.3 percent in the Midwest.
Pending sales are a barometer of home purchases that are completed a month or two later. So the November index suggests that sales will possibly decline through January.