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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Improve
by Tom Moeller  November 30, 2015

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of single-family homes gained 0.2% during October (2.1% y/y) following a revised 1.6% September drop, initially reported as -2.3%. Sales remained 4.1% below the peak level reached in May. Expectations were for a 1.0% increase according to Bloomberg. These sales are reported as an index with 2001=100. The October value of 107.7 was up 39.7% from the June 2010 low.

Sales results varied around the country last month. In the Northeast, sales increased 4.5% (4.6% y/y) and made up October's decline. In the West, they rose 1.7% (6.4% y/y) to the highest level since June 2013. Sales in the South moved 1.7% lower (-0.9% y/y) and were down 8.3% from the peak six months ago. In the Midwest, sales fell 1.0% (+1.4% y/y) and were 7.3% below the April high.

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.

Differences in Rent Inflation by Cost of Housing from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.

Pending Home Sales (%, SA) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y (NSA) 2014 2013 2012
Total 0.2 -1.6 -1.4 2.1 -4.4 5.0 11.8
Northeast 4.5 -4.0 -5.6 4.6 -1.4 7.0 17.6
Midwest -1.0 -2.3 -0.4 1.4 -6.3 11.3 18.6
South -1.7 -1.1 -2.3 -0.9 -2.0 6.0 12.9
West 1.7 -0.2 1.6 6.4 -8.7 -3.8 1.5
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