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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Continue to Fall
by Tom Moeller  June 27, 2018

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of existing homes fell 0.5% during May (-2.2% y/y) following a 1.3% April decline. Sales fell to an index level of 105.9 (2001=100) which was the lowest level since January. Sales were 6.3% below the peak in April of 2016.

The decline in the overall sales figure last month was due to a 3.5% sales shortfall in the South after a 1.0% decline. They were unchanged y/y. Elsewhere in the country sales increased. In the Midwest, sales rose 2.9% (-2.5% y/y) after April's 3.2% fall. Sales in the Northeast rose 2.0% m/m (-4.8% y/y) after having been steady in April. Pending sales in the West improved 0.6% (-4.1% y/y) and reversed the prior month's 0.7% easing.

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 PREALTORdatabase.

Pending Home Sales (SA, 2001=100) May Apr Mar May Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 105.9 106.4 107.8 -2.2 108.9 110.2 108.9
Northeast 92.4 90.6 90.6 -4.8 97.1 96.4 90.5
Midwest 101.4 98.5 101.8 -2.5 104.7 107.9 107.2
South 122.9 127.3 128.6 0.0 123.6 123.3 123.1
West 94.7 94.1 94.8 -4.1 99.4 102.7 102.5
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