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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Fall Sharply
by Tom Moeller  May 27, 2011

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of existing single-family homes fell 11.6% last month after a 3.5% March gain, that was initially reported as 5.1%. Sales were at the lowest level since September. The m/m decline was sharpest in the South where sales fell 17.2% m/m. In the Northeast sales inched up 1.7% but remained down by one-third versus April of last year.

The Realtors' Association reported early this month that housing affordability fell during March from its record high. Subsequently, it was reported that the median sales price of an existing home rose 1.6% (-5.4% y/y) in April perhaps reducing affordability again slightly.

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)  Apr Mar Feb Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total 81.9 92.6 89.5 -26.5 89.4 94.5 87.0
  Northeast 64.5 63.4 65.5 -33.4 71.6 76.6 73.5
  Midwest 74.1 82.7 81.1 -30.2 80.3 88.6 81.1
  South 91.3 110.3 99.9 -27.0 97.0 98.0 89.8
  West 89.1 97.8 100.6 -16.9 100.8 109.3 99.4
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