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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Surge With Improved Affordability
by Tom Moeller   December 02, 2010

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that October pending sales of existing single-family homes jumped 10.4% m/m. The gain reversed the unrevised September decline and brought sales to the highest level since April, just before the expiration of the home-buyer tax credit. Consensus expectations had been for a 1.0% m/m decline. Sales throughout the country sales jumped but still remained down sharply from the year-ago level.

In a related report, the Realtors' Association reported that housing affordability rose during October to a record high. The median price for a single-family home fell 25.9% from its 2006 high and the monthly mortgage rate fell to a record low 4.62%. The average mortgage payment of principal plus interest came to 13.6% of income, down from its 2006 high of 24.8%. 

Pending 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 and the data is available in Haver's PREALTOR database. The home affordability figures are available in the REALTOR database.

Gauging the Odds of a Double-Dip Recession Amid Signals and Slowdowns from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here.

Pending Home Sales (2001=100)  Oct. Sept. Aug. Y/Y % 2009 2008 2007
Total 89.3 80.9 82.4 -20.6 95.1 86.9 95.9
  Northeast 71.3 59.6 60.6 -27.3 76.7 73.0 86.1
  Midwest 81.7 64.2 68.1 -24.8 88.8 80.7 89.6
  South 93.8 87.6 90.8 -18.4 98.9 90.3 107.4
  West 104.3 104.7 101.1 -15.6 109.9 99.2 92.1
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