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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Decline Again, Fell to Lowest since Spring 2014
by Sandy Batten  January 30, 2018

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales fell 2.2% m/m (-9.8% y/y) in December. This was the third consecutive monthly decline and the seventh decline in the past nine months. The December reading for the index was 99.0, down 12.4% from the April 2016 peak. This is the lowest reading for the index since April 2014 and was the twelfth consecutive month in which pending sales were lower than a year earlier

The nationwide decline in pending home sales in December was widespread. Sales plummeted 5.0% m/m (-13.5% y/y) in the South, slipped 2.0% m/m (-2.5%) in the Northeast, and edged down 0.6% m/m (-7.2% y/y) in the Midwest. In contrast, pending sales rose 1.7% m/m (-10.8% y/y) in the West for their second consecutive monthly increase.

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 anticipates 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) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 99.0 101.2 102.1 -9.8 109.0 109.8 108.8
Northeast 93.2 95.1 92.6 -2.5 97.2 96.4 90.8
Midwest 97.5 98.1 100.4 -7.2 104.8 107.4 107.1
South 109.7 115.5 118.9 -13.5 123.8 122.9 123.1
West 88.4 86.9 84.8 -10.8 99.6 102.4 102.2
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