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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Rebound in March
by Tom Moeller  April 29, 2021

• Purchases remain constrained by limited supply.

• Sales are mixed amongst regions.

Pending home sales increased 1.9% (23.3% y/y) during March following an 11.5% February fall, revised from -10.6%. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), recent sales weakness continued to reflect a record low number of homes on the market.

Sales in the Northeast jumped 6.1% (16.7% y/y) following two months of sharp decline. Sales in the South rose 2.9% (27.9% y/y) after a 12.9% drop in February. In the West, sales also gained 2.9% (29.8% y/y) after declining for two straight months. Moving 3.7% lower (+14.1% y/y) were sales in the Midwest, down for the fifth straight month.

The pending home sales index measures sales at the time the contract for the purchase 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. 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. Mortgage interest rates from the Mortgage Bankers Association can be found in the SURVEYW database.

Pending Home Sales (SA, % chg) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total 1.9 -11.5 -2.4 23.3 6.9 1.0 -4.1
   Northeast 6.1 -9.2 -7.4 16.7 2.5 0.7 -5.2
   Midwest -3.7 -9.5 -0.9 14.1 7.7 -0.3 -4.6
   South 2.9 -12.9 1.3 27.9 8.5 1.8 -1.8
   West 2.9 -12.2 -7.8 29.8 5.9 1.1 -7.3
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