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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Climb Another 6.4% in August
by Carol Stone October 1, 2009

Housing demand continues to improve. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that during August, pending home sales increased 6.4%, notably stronger than June's 3.6% and July's 3.2% gains.  NAR's index stood at 103.8, the highest since March 2007; the index base is 2001=100.

In this report, all four regions of the country participated in the firming sales pattern.  The West led again, with a whopping 16.0% jump.  This is a  monthly rate; you can annualize it, if you like, and see a really eye-popping figure.  The sales index there was 130.5; its all-time high in the West is 133.0 in February 2005. This upturn in sales has been helped by weak house prices, but as noted elsewhere on these pages recently, these prices have started to firm; while there are no price data with this report, NAR's tally of sales closed in August showed an outright increase in prices in the West of 1.3%; since an apparent trough in April, these prices have risen a total of 8.6%. 

Elsewhere, sales advanced 8.2% in the Northeast, and at 85.3, this index is up 47.6% since the low there in January.  In the Midwest, sales gained 3.1% in August, and they are 25.1% above their low, also in January.  Sales in the South just barely edged higher, 0.8%, but they have risen more in prior months, so that they are now 27.3% above their January trough.

These home sales 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. The series dates back to 2001.

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

Pending Home Sales (2001=100)  August July June Y/Y 2008 2007 2006 
Total 103.8 97.6 94.6    12.3% 86.8 95.8 112.1 
  Northeast 85.3 78.8 81.2 11.9 73.1 85.9 98.9
  Midwest 90.8 88.1 89.9 7.6 80.6 89.5 101.9
  South 104.6 103.8 100.7 8.3 89.6 107.3 127.2
  West 130.5 112.5 100.4 22.3 99.5 92.3 109.6
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