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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Plunge to Record Low
by Tom Moeller  May 28, 2020

• Pending home sales fell 21.8% in April.

• Double-digit declines were recorded for second month across the country.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales plummeted 21.8% in April (-33.8% y/y). This is the largest monthly decline since May 2010.

Pending home sales declined 48.2% in the Northeast (-52.6% y/y). In the West, sales fell 20.0% and by more than one-third y/y. In the Midwest, sales were off 15.9% (-26.0% y/y) and they declined 15.4% (-29.6% y/y) in the South.

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. Mortgage interest rates from the Mortgage Bankers Association can be found in the SURVEYW database.

Pending Home Sales (SA, % chg) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total -21.8 -20.8 2.3 -33.8 1.1 -4.1 -0.8
   Northeast -48.2 -14.5 2.8 -52.6 0.8 -5.0 0.6
   Midwest -15.9 -22.0 4.2 -26.0 -0.3 -4.6 -2.5
   South -15.4 -19.6 -0.2 -29.6 1.8 -1.9 0.6
   West -20.0 -26.8 5.1 -37.2 1.3 -7.3 -2.5
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