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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Fall Sharply
by Tom Moeller  February 29, 2016

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending sales of single-family homes declined 2.5% in January (+1.4% y/y) following December's revised 0.9% improvement, which was initially reported as 0.1%. The January sales volume was 4.7% below the peak nine months ago. Expectations, according to a Wall Street Journal survey, were for an increase of 0.5%. These sales are reported as an index with 2001=100. The January value of 106.8 was 37.5% higher than the June 2010 low.

Regionally, January sales generally declined. Sales in the Midwest were off 4.9% after a 0.5% gain while sales in the West fell 4.5%, down for the third straight month. Sales in the Northeast declined 3.2%, but were 10.9% improved from twelve months earlier, and sales in the South edged 0.3% higher (-1.3% y/y).

The pending home sales figures are analogous to the new home sales data from the Census Bureau. They measure home sales when the sales contract is signed, not at the time the sale is closed. In developing the model for the index, the NAR demonstrated that the level of monthly sales contract activity parallels 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.

Pending Home Sales (%, SA) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total -2.5 0.9 -0.4 1.4 8.0 -4.4 5.0
Northeast -3.2 5.9 -1.2 10.9 8.2 -1.4 7.0
Midwest -4.9 0.3 1.0 1.4 7.3 -6.3 11.3
South 0.3 0.3 0.9 -1.3 7.1 -2.0 6.0
West -4.5 -1.0 -3.5 0.4 10.4 -8.7 -3.8
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