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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Edge Higher in November
by Carol Stone, CBE  December 27, 2017

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales increased 0.2% (0.8% y/y) during November to an index level of 109.5 (2001=100). This followed their 3.5% jump in October. Sales were 3.6% below their recent peak in April 2016.

Sales changes were mixed by region in November. Those in the Northeast rose 4.1% (1.1% y/y) to an index level of 98.9, after edging up 0.5% in October. In the Midwest, they were up 0.4% (0.8% y/y) to 105.8, following October's 2.4% advance. In contrast, sales slowed in the South by 0.4% (2.5% y/y) to 123.1, thus pausing after October's 7.4% surge. And in the West, sales were down 1.8% (-2.3% y/y) to 100.4 after inching down 0.1% in October. The widely varying index levels themselves indicate that home sales trends are hardly standard across the country; sales in the South have historically been more vigorous than elsewhere, but relative strength otherwise shifts back and forth among the other regions

The pending home sales index measures home sales when the sales contract is signed, analogous to the Census Bureau's new home sales data. In contrast, the National Association of Realtors' existing home sales data 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, 2001=100) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 109.5 109.3 105.6 0.8 109.8 108.8 101.2
Northeast 98.9 95.0 94.5 1.1 96.3 90.7 83.9
Midwest 105.8 105.4 102.9 0.8 107.3 107.1 100.3
South 123.1 123.6 115.1 2.5 122.8 123.0 115.5
West 100.4 102.2 102.3 -2.3 102.5 102.4 93.1


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