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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Again Fell in March, As Expected
by Tom Moeller May 7, 2008

The National Association of Realtors reported that the level of pending sales of existing homes fell an expected 1.0% after a deepened 2.8% February decline. Sales during 1Q08 were down 11.9% 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.

Sales in the West fell by 1.4% for the second month following a 13.0% spurt in January. That improvement was accompanied by a 12.5% surge in sales in the Northeast. Sales in the South ticked lower by 0.1% but sales are down 38.8% from their 2005 peak. In the Midwest March sales collapsed 10.4% m/m after a 3.7% February drop.

The Realtors also indicated in an earlier report that the number of homes on the market & available for sale rose 1.0% in March (6.6% y/y). At the current sales rate there was a 9.9 months' supply of homes on the market versus an 8.9 months' average during all of last year, a 6.5 months' supply in 2006 and a 4.5 months' supply in 2005.

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.

Pending Home Sales (2001=100)  March February Y/Y 2007 2006  2005
Total 83.0  83.8    -20.1% 95.7 112.1  124.3
  Northeast 80.8 71.8 -15.4 85.6 98.5 108.3
  Midwest 74.1 82.7 -22.3 89.6 102.0 116.4
  South 84.9 85.0 -26.8 107.3 127.3 134.8
  West 91.2 92.5 -9.4 92.1 109.5 128.6
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