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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Dipped in September
by Sandy Batten  October 28, 2021

• Decline did not appear to disrupt recent upward trend.

• Sales decreased across all regions.

Pending home sales fell 2.3% m/m (-8.0% y/y) in September after having risen an unrevised 8.1% m/m in August but appear to remain on an upward trend that began this spring. The Realtors Association reported that some potential buyers have momentarily paused their home search with inventory beginning its seasonal decline.

Sales declined in each of the four major regions, both from a month ago and also from a year ago. The largest monthly decline was in the Midwest, -3.5% m/m (-5.8% y/y). The second largest was a 3.2% m/m (-18.5% y/y) drop in the Northeast. Pending sales fell 1.8% m/m (-5.8% y/y) in the South and slipped 1.4% m/m (-7.2% y/y) in the West.

The pending home sales index measures sales at the time the contract for the purchase of an existing home is signed, similar 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 usually a couple of months after the sales contract has been signed. In developing the pending home sales index, the NAR found that the level of monthly sales contract activity leads the level of closed existing home sales by about two months.

The series dates back to 2001 and are available in Haver's PREALTOR database. Weekly mortgage interest rates from the Mortgage Bankers Association can be found in the SURVEYW database.

Pending Home Sales (SA, % chg) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total -2.3 8.1 -2.0 -8.0 6.9 1.0 -4.1
   Northeast -3.2 4.6 -6.6 -18.5 2.5 0.7 -5.2
   Midwest -3.5 10.4 -3.4 -5.8 7.7 -0.3 -4.6
   South -1.8 8.4 -1.1 -5.8 8.5 1.8 -1.8
   West -1.4 7.0 1.9 -7.2 5.9 1.1 -7.3
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