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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Continue To Decline
by Tom Moeller  September 26, 2013

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that August pending sales of single-family homes declined 1.6% m/m, down for the third straight month. Despite the loss of forward momentum, sales were at the highest level since February 2007. The rebound in sales since the removal in 2010 of the home buyers tax credit has raised home sales by 39.7% from the low.

The largest regional m/m decline in home sales occurred in the South where they fell 3.5% (+3.7% y/y). That was followed by a 1.6% drop (+1.7% y/y) in the West and a 1.4% shortfall (+13.8% y/y) in the Midwest. To the upside were sales in the Northeast which increased 4.0% (5.1% y/y).  

The Pending home sales figures are analogous to the new home sales data from the Commerce Department. They measure existing home sales when the sales contract is signed, not at the time the sale is closed. In developing the model for the index, the NAR demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months. The series dates back to 2001 and the data are available in Haver's PREALTOR database. 

Pending Home Sales (2001=100) Aug Jul Jun Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Total 107.7 109.4 110.9 5.8 100.3 90.2 89.1
Northeast 84.8 81.5 87.2 5.1 79.1 67.9 70.9
Midwest 111.6 113.2 114.3 13.8 95.9 81.5 79.8
South 116.9 121.1 118.4 3.7 110.7 98.3 97.0
West 106.9 108.6 114.2 1.7 105.2 104.1 100.7
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