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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Are Highest Since April As Prices Fall
by Tom Moeller  January 27, 2011

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that December pending sales of existing single-family homes increased another 2.0% m/m to the highest level since April, just before the expiration of the home-buyer tax credit. Sales throughout the country sales increased except the West.

In a related report, the Realtors' Association reported that housing affordability rose during October to another record high. The median price for a single-family home fell 26.7% from its 2006 high and the monthly mortgage rate fell to a record low 4.54%. The average mortgage payment of principal plus interest came to 13.5% 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.

Pending Home Sales (2001=100)  Dec Nov Oct Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total 93.7 91.9 89.1 -4.2 89.5 95.1 86.9
  Northeast 73.9 72.6 71.3 -5.4 70.7 76.7 73.0
  Midwest 84.6 78.3 81.7 -5.2 80.1 88.8 80.7
  South 101.9 91.4 93.1 1.7 101.9 98.9 90.3
  West 105.8 121.9 104.3 -10.7 101.0 109.9 99.2
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