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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales in April Reverse March Gain
by Tom Moeller  May 27, 2021

• Regional sales declines are widespread.

• Purchases remain constrained by limited supply.

Pending home sales fell 4.4% (+51.7% y/y) during April following a 1.7% March rise, revised from 1.9%. Sales volume fell to the lowest level since May of last year. Weakness continues to reflect a record low number of homes on the market.

Sales in the Northeast declined 12.9% (+96.5% y/y) in April following a 6.1% gain. Sales in the South fell 6.1% (+45.3% y/y) after a 3.0% March rise. In the West, sales also were off 2.6% (+57.3% y/y) and reversed their increase in March. Moving 3.5% higher (39.4% y/y) were sales in the Midwest following five straight months of decline.

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) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total -4.4 1.7 -11.5 51.7 6.9 1.0 -4.1
   Northeast -12.9 6.1 -9.2 96.5 2.5 0.7 -5.2
   Midwest 3.5 -4.6 -9.5 39.4 7.7 -0.3 -4.6
   South -6.1 3.0 -12.9 45.3 8.5 1.8 -1.8
   West -2.6 2.9 -12.2 57.3 5.9 1.1 -7.3
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