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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Are Little Changed
by Tom Moeller  January 28, 2016

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of single-family homes ticked 0.1% higher in December (+3.1% y/y) following November's 1.1% decline, which was initially reported as -0.9%. The December sales volume was 4.9% below the peak in May. Expectations, according to a Wall Street Journal survey, were for an increase of 0.6%. These sales are reported as an index with 2001=100. The December value of 106.8 was 38.5% higher than the June 2010 low.

Regionally, December sales were mixed and most reversed their change in November. Sales in the Northeast jumped 6.1% following a 2.5% decline while sales in the Midwest declined 1.1% after a 0.8% gain. Sales in the South fell 0.5% following a 1.3%increase. Continuing lower by 2.1% were sales in the West after a 6.2% drop.

The pending home sales figures are analogous to the new home sales data from the Census Bureau. 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) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y (NSA) 2015 2014 2013
Total 0.1 -1.1 0.4 3.1 8.0 -4.4 5.0
Northeast 6.1 -2.5 5.6 13.0 8.2 -1.4 7.0
Midwest -1.1 0.8 -1.0 2.7 7.3 -6.3 11.3
South -0.5 1.3 -1.4 0.9 7.1 -2.0 6.0
West -2.1 -6.2 1.7 2.0 10.4 -8.7 -3.8
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