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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Fall Sharply
by Tom Moeller  January 28, 2013

Pending sales of single-family homes slumped 4.3% (+6.9% y/y) last month after a little-revised 1.6% November rise, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). For all of 2012, sales rose 11.2% y/y. The rebound in the aftermath of the removal in 2010 of the home buyers tax credit has raised sales by one-third from the low.

The slump in sales last month was led by an 8.2% decline (-5.3% y/y) in sales in the West. Sales in the Northeast also were soft and fell 5.4% (+8.4% y/y), reversing the November gain. Finally, sales in the South were off 4.5% (+10.1% y/y) to the lowest level in three months. To the upside, sales in the Midwest inched higher by 0.9% (14.4% y/y) after a similarly small November rise.

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) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total 101.7 106.3 104.6 6.9 100.4 90.3 89.2
Northeast 78.8 83.3 79.2 8.4 79.2 68.0 70.9
Midwest 104.8 103.9 103.7 14.4 96.1 81.6 79.9
South 111.5 116.8 117.2 10.1 110.8 98.3 97.0
West 101.0 110.0 105.7 -5.3 105.1 104.2 100.8
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