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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Fell As Expected in February
by Tom Moeller April 9, 2008

For February, the National Association of Realtors reported that the level of pending sales of existing homes fell 1.9% after having been roughly unchanged in January. The latest reading was as expected and it was down 11.6% from the average sales level in 2007.

These figures are analogous to the new home sales data from the Commerce Department in that they measure existing home sales when the sales contract is signed, not at the time the sale is closed.

On a running basis three month basis, the rate of decline in home sales eased somewhat to -10.2% (AR) from the worst rate of decline of over 40% last summer.

Sales in the West actually have risen 20.7% from their low last August and the three month rate of change through February soared to 62.9%.

That improvement, however, was countered by a sharp deterioration in sales in the South where the three month change in sales fell to a negative 42.7%.

Despite a 3.7% decline in February sales in the Midwest, on a three month basis sales have stabilized and show a slight increase. In the Northeast sales rose 3.2% last month but the three month change remained quite negative at -11.4%.

The Realtors also indicated in an earlier report that the number of homes on the market and available for sale fell 3.0% (+6.0% y/y) in February. At the current sales rate there were 9.6 months of homes on the market versus an 8.9 months average during all of last year.

The pending home sales data are available in Haver's PREALTOR database and the number of homes on the market are in the REALTOR database.

Energy and the Economy from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Pending Home Sales (2001=100)  February January Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Total 84.6  86.2    -21.4% 95.7 112.1  124.3
  Northeast 71.8 69.6 -25.4 85.6 98.5 108.3
  Midwest 82.7 85.9 -17.4 89.6 102.0 116.4
  South 85.0 89.9 -30.3 107.3 127.3 134.8
  West 95.8 93.8 -6.2 92.3 109.5 128.6
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