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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Continue to Fall From June High
by Tom Moeller  March 27, 2014

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of single-family homes moved 0.8% lower during February, the eighth strait monthly decline. The 0.2% January drop was revised from a 0.1% uptick reported last month. Sales have fallen 15.3% since the peak last June. Expectations had been for a 0.2% rise according to Bloomberg.

Home sales were mixed across the country last month. In the South, sales fell 4.0% (-9.3% y/y) following a 3.1% January rise. Sales remained down 11.8% from the May peak. In the Northeast, a 2.4% decline (-7.4% y/y) pulled sales 14.4% below the peak last April. In the Midwest, sales firmed 2.8% (-8.5% y/y) following seven straight months of decline. Sales were off 15.5% since the May peak. In the West, sales gained 2.3% last month (-16.5% y/y), also after seven straight monthly declines. Sales were off by one-quarter from the peak

The pending home sales figures are analogous to the new home sales data from the Commerce Department. They measure 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 (%) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Total -0.8 -0.2 -5.8 -10.5 4.5 11.3 1.3
Northeast -2.4 2.3 -7.3 -7.4 6.1 16.6 -4.0
Midwest 2.8 -2.7 -5.2 -8.5 10.4 17.7 2.2
South -4.0 3.1 -5.7 -9.3 5.4 12.7 1.4
West 2.3 -4.8 -5.9 -16.5 -3.6 1.2 3.4
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