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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Dip
by Peter D'Antonio  February 27, 2017

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales declined by 2.8% in January to an index level of 106.4. The index, which is reported on a 2001 = 100 basis, had hovered in a range near 109 for the past year before dipping in January to its lowest level in a year.

The NAR indicated that overall sales were hampered by insufficient supplies. In addition, the pending sales figures were mixed across regions, suggesting the series also may have been affected by weather. For example, the index in the West declined by 9.8% to 94.6, the lowest reading since June 2014, possibly reflecting the heavy rains in California. Meanwhile, pending sales in the Northeast hit a new cycle high of 98.7, amid unseasonably mild winter weather.

The pending home sales index measures home sales when the sales contract is signed, analogous to the new home sales report. In contrast, existing home sales 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 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 Nov Oct Jan Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total 106.4 109.5 108.6 0.4 109.8 108.8 101.2
Northeast 98.7 96.5 97.8 3.6 96.3 90.7 83.9
Midwest 99.5 104.7 105.0 -3.8 107.3 107.1 100.3
South 122.5 122.0 120.1 2.0 122.8 123.0 115.5
West 94.6 104.9 102.8 -0.4 102.5 102.4 93.1
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