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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Decline to Three-Month Low
by Tom Moeller  May 31, 2018

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of existing homes fell 1.3% (-2.1% y/y) in April to an index level of 106.4 (2001=100). It was the third month of decline and left the index at the lowest level since January. Sales were 5.8% below the peak in March of 2016. The Realtors Association indicated that home demand remained strong, but the number of homes on the market was limited.

Pending home sales in the Midwest declined 3.2% (-5.1% y/y) to nearly the lowest level since April 2014. Pending sales in the West eased 0.4% (-4.6% y/y) to the lowest level since June 2014. In the South, sales declined 1.0% (+2.7% y/y). Meanwhile sales in the Northeast held steady m/m (-7.0% y/y) at the lowest level in three months. They were 10.5% lower than the February 2017 high.

The pending home sales index measures when the sales contract for an existing home 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) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 106.4 107.8 107.2 -2.1 108.9 110.2 108.9
Northeast 90.6 90.6 96.0 -7.0 97.1 96.4 97.1
Midwest 98.5 101.8 98.9 -5.1 104.7 107.9 104.7
South 127.3 128.6 125.5 2.7 123.6 123.3 123.6
West 94.4 94.8 95.8 -4.6 99.4 102.7 99.4
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