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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Remain Firm
by Tom Moeller  April 29, 2015

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of single-family homes increased 1.1% during March following a 3.6% February jump, last month reported as 3.1%. Expectations were for a 1.0% increase according to Bloomberg. These sales are reported as an index with 2001=100. The March value was 108.6, down 14.5% from the peak of 127.0 in April 2005. It nevertheless remained up roughly one-third from the 2010 low of 77.1 in June 2010.

Movement in home sales varied greatly around the country during March. In the South, sales increased 4.0% (12.4% y/y) to the highest level since December 2006. Home sales in the West gained 1.7% (15.6% y/y) to the highest level since June 2012. To the downside, sales in the Midwest fell 2.5% (+11.3% y/y). Home sales in the Northeast declined 1.5% (+0.6% y/y), off for the fourth consecutive month.

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 (%, SA) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total 1.1 3.6 1.2 11.2 -3.3 4.5 11.3
Northeast -1.5 -2.6 -1.4 0.6 -0.4 6.1 16.6
Midwest -2.5 11.5 -1.1 11.3 -5.7 10.4 17.7
South 4.0 -0.2 3.2 12.4 -1.5 5.4 12.7
West 1.7 6.5 1.6 15.6 -5.9 -3.6 1.2
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