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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Decline
by Tom Moeller  February 28, 2011

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that January pending sales of existing single-family homes fell 2.8% after a 3.2% December decline, which last month was reported as a 2.0% increase. Sales fell hard in most regions of the country due to heavy snowfalls.

In a related report, the Realtors' Association reported that housing affordability slipped m/m during December but remained near the record high. The median price for a single-family home fell 31.0% from its 2006 high but the monthly mortgage rate ticked up to a 4.69%. The average mortgage payment of principal plus interest remained at 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)  Jan Dec Nov Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total 88.9 91.5 94.5 -1.6 89.4 94.5 87.0
  Northeast 73.5 75.3 77.3 -3.0 71.6 76.6 73.5
  Midwest 78.0 84.1 83.7 -3.2 80.3 88.6 81.1
  South 97.7 96.4 95.5 -0.4 97.0 98.0 89.8
  West 98.7 104.1 117.8 -0.9 100.8 109.3 99.4
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