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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Improve
by Tom Moeller  October 25, 2018

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales increased 0.5% in September (-1.0% y/y) following a little-revised 1.9% fall during August. The index level rose to 104.6 in September (2001=100) compared to 104.1 in August.

The rise in pending home sales was driven by a 4.5% surge (-7.4% y/y) in the West which followed a 5.9% decline. Pending home sales in the Midwest rose 1.2% (-1.1% y/y) and recouped a 0.9% August decline. To the downside were sales in the South which fell 1.4% (+3.3% y/y), the fifth decline in the last six months. Sales were at the lowest level in twelve months. Also weak were pending home sales in the Northeast which declined 0.4% (-2.7% y/y) after a 1.3% drop.

The pending home sales index measures sales at the time the 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) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 104.6 104.1 106.1 -1.0 109.0 109.8 108.8
Northeast 92.3 92.7 93.9 -2.7 97.2 96.4 90.8
Midwest 102.4 101.2 102.1 -1.1 104.8 107.4 107.1
South 119.6 121.3 122.2 3.3 123.8 122.9 123.1
West 93.1 89.1 94.7 -7.4 99.6 102.4 102.2
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