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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Rebound
by Gerald D. Cohen  February 27, 2019

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales jumped 4.6% in January (-2.3% year-on-year) in after six consecutive monthly declines. The December reading for the index was revised slightly lower to 98.7, the weakest reading since April 2014.

All regions of the country experienced some improvement. Sales rebounded 8.9% in the South (-3.1% y/y), rose 2.8% in the Midwest (-0.3% y/y), increased 1.6% in the Northeast (7.6% y/y) and edged up 0.3% in the West (-10.1% y/y).

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) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Total 103.2 98.7 101.0 -2.3 104.7 109.1 109.8
   Northeast 94.0 92.5 93.9 7.6 92.4 97.1 96.4
   Midwest 100.2 97.5 97.6 -0.3 100.2 104.9 107.4
   South 119.8 110.0 116.1 -3.1 121.6 123.9 123.0
   West 87.3 87.0 86.3 -10.1 92.3 99.5 102.3
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