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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  October 29, 2019

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that U.S. pending home sales rose 1.5% (3.9% y/y) during September following a 1.4% August increase. The index level of sales increased to 108.7, the highest level since December 2017.

Sales were mixed last month across the country. In the Midwest sales increased 3.1% (2.7% y/y) last month after a 0.2% rise. In the South sales rose 2.6% (5.7% y/y) following a 1.3% gain. Working 1.3% lower (+3.4% y/y) were sales in the West after a 3.1% rise. In the Northeast sales eased 0.4% (+1.3% y/y) following a 1.4% increase.

The pending home sales index measures sales at the time the contract for the sale of 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, which is a month or two later. Accordingly, in developing the pending home sales index, the NAR found that the level of monthly sales contract activity precedes the level of closed existing home sales by one to two months. The series dates back to 2001, and the data are available in Haver's PREALTOR database. Mortgage interest rates from the Mortgage Bankers Association can be found in the SURVEYW database.

Pending Home Sales (SA, 2001=100) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Total 108.7 107.1 105.6 3.9 104.7 109.1 109.8
   Northeast 93.9 94.3 93.0 1.3 92.4 97.1 96.4
   Midwest 104.4 101.3 101.1 2.7 100.2 104.9 107.4
   South 127.5 124.3 122.7 5.7 121.6 123.9 123.0
   West 95.1 96.4 93.5 3.4 92.3 99.5 102.3
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