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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Rebound
by Gerald D. Cohen  April 30, 2019

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales jumped 3.8% in March (-1.2% year-on-year). Pending sales declined for most of 2018, dropping in December to its lowest level since April 2014. Pending sales are up 7.2% since the end of last year.

The number of signed contracts rose in every region of the country except the Northeast. Pending sales jumped 8.7% in the West (-1.6% y/y), rose 4.4% in the South (0.7% y/y), and increased 2.3% in the Midwest (-5.0% y/y). Activity declined 1.7% (-0.4% y/y) in the Northeast.

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) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Total 105.8 101.9 102.9 -1.2 104.7 109.1 109.8
   Northeast 90.5 92.1 92.8 -0.4 92.4 97.1 96.4
   Midwest 95.3 93.2 100.4 -5.0 100.2 104.9 107.4
   South 127.2 121.8 119.8 0.7 121.6 123.9 123.0
   West 95.1 87.5 87.1 -1.6 92.3 99.5 102.3
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