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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Recover Earlier Decline
by Tom Moeller  February 27, 2012

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that January pending sales of single-family homes improved 2.0% (8.0% y/y) following a lessened 1.9% December drop. The index level of 97.0 (2001=100) was the highest since April of 2010 when the first-time homebuyers tax credit was fueling sales.

Sales improvement last month was uneven throughout the country. In the Northeast, a 7.6% m/m sales gain pulled the level up for the fourth consecutive month, also to its highest since April 2010. In the South, a 7.7% gain also was to its highest since April 2010. To the downside, sales in the West fell 4.4% to their lowest since April of last year while sales in the Midwest were off 3.8% but still were at their highest also since April 2010.

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 are available in Haver's PREALTOR database.

Pending Home Sales (2001=100) Jan Dec Nov Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total 97.0 95.1 96.9 8.0 90.3 89.2 94.7
Northeast 78.2 72.7 72.3 9.8 68.0 70.9 76.8
Midwest 88.1 91.6 90.1 10.8 81.6 79.9 88.9
South 109.1 101.3 102.9 10.5 98.3 97.0 98.4
West 101.9 106.6 113.7 0.7 104.2 100.8 109.2
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