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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Rebound
by Tom Moeller  January 30, 2017

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales increased 1.6% m/m (0.3% y/y) in December after an unrevised 2.5% November decline. These sales are reported as an index with 2001=100. During all of last year, sales improved 0.9%. The December reading of 109.0 was 5.2% below the April peak, but 41.4% above the June 2010 low.

Pending sales were mixed across the country. Sales declined 1.6% m/m (-1.2% y/y) in the Northeast, and fell 0.8% m/m (-3.4% y/y) in the Midwest. Sales improved 2.4% m/m (0.5% y/y) in the South, and increased 5.0% m/m (5.0% y/y) in the West.

The pending home sales index is constructed to be analogous to the new home sales data from the Census Bureau. It measures home sales when the sales contract is signed, as are new home sales. In contrast, existing home sales are recorded when the sale is closed. In developing the pending home sales index, the NAR found 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 2016 2015 2014
Total 1.6 -2.5 0.1 0.3 0.9 7.5 -3.3
Northeast -1.6 1.1 0.4 -1.2 6.1 8.0 -0.4
Midwest -0.8 -2.5 1.5 -3.4 0.1 6.8 -5.7
South 2.4 -1.3 -1.3 0.5 -0.1 6.5 -1.4
West 5.0 -6.7 0.7 5.0 0.2 10.0 -5.9
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