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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Rebound
by Tom Moeller  February 27, 2015

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of single-family homes rebounded 1.7% during January, recouping a 1.5% December decline, last month reported as a 3.7% drop. These sales are reported as an index with 2001=100. The January value was 104.2, down 18.0% from the peak of 127.0 in April 2005. It nevertheless remained up by 35.1% from the recession low of 77.1 in June 2010.

Home sales in the South gained 3.2% (9.7% y/y) to the highest level since April 2010, ahead of the expiration of a first-time home-buyers tax credit. Home sales in the West gained 2.2% (11.4% y/y) after three months of decline. In the Northeast, home sales improved just 0.1% (6.9% y/y) and thus remained near the lowest level since June. Home sales in the Midwest fell 0.7% (+4.2% y/y), about as they did in December.

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.

Remarks at the 2015 U.S. Monetary Policy Forum by William C. Dudley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Pending Home Sales (%, SA) Jan Dec Nov Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total 1.7 -1.5 0.4 8.4 -3.3 4.5 11.3
Northeast 0.1 -3.6 0.5 6.9 -0.4 6.1 16.6
Midwest -0.7 -0.8 0.2 4.2 -5.7 10.4 17.7
South 3.2 -1.0 0.7 9.7 -1.5 5.4 12.7
West 2.2 -1.9 -0.1 11.4 -5.9 -3.6 1.2
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