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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Jump
by Tom Moeller  March 29, 2017

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales increased 5.5% in February to an index level of 112.3, the highest point since April 2016. The NAR suggested that warm temperatures helped lift sales. The gain followed declines in two of the prior three months. The index, which is reported on a 2001=100 basis, hovered in a range near 109 for the past year before the February increase.

The pending sales figures showed strength across regions. The index in the Midwest jumped 11.4% (-0.6% y/y) to 110.8, the highest reading since April of last year. Meanwhile, pending sales in the Northeast gained 3.4% (6.6% y/y) to a reading of 102.1, the highest level since April 2006. In the South, the index increased 4.3% (4.2% y/y) to 127.8, and the index in the West rose 3.1% (-0.2% y/y) following a 9.8% decline. The latest level of 97.5 was 8.5% below the July high.

The pending home sales index measures home sales when the sales contract is signed, analogous to the new home sales report. 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) Feb Jan Nov Feb Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total 112.3 106.4 109.5 2.6 109.8 108.8 101.2
Northeast 102.1 98.7 96.5 6.6 96.3 90.7 83.9
Midwest 110.8 99.5 104.7 -0.6 107.3 107.1 100.3
South 127.8 122.5 122.0 4.2 122.8 123.0 115.5
West 97.5 94.6 104.9 -0.2 102.5 102.4 93.1
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