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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Continue to Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  April 27, 2016

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of single-family homes rose 1.4% in March (1.4% y/y) following a little revised 3.4% February increase. The March sales volume remained 0.6% below the peak last April. These sales are reported as an index with 2001=100. The March value of 110.5 was 43.3% higher than the June 2010 low.

March sales performance varied around the country. In the Northeast, sales increased 3.2% (18.4% y/y) following declines in three of the prior four months. Sales in the South gained 3.0% (-0.6% y/y) following a 1.5% rise. Sales in the Midwest were little changed (4.0% y/y) following an 11.4% increase, and in the West sales declined 1.8% (-7.9% y/y), off for the fourth month in the last five.

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) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total 1.4 3.4 -3.0 1.4 7.5 -3.3 4.6
Northeast 3.2 -0.2 -3.5 18.4 8.0 -0.4 6.2
Midwest 0.2 11.4 -4.9 4.0 6.8 -5.7 10.5
South 3.0 1.5 -0.7 -0.6 6.5 -1.4 5.5
West -1.8 1.4 -5.2 -7.9 10.0 -5.9 -3.8
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