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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Slip
by Tom Moeller  August 31, 2017

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales eased 0.8% (-1.3% y/y) during July to an index level of 109.1 (2001=100). It was the fifth monthly decline this year, and left sales 4.0% below the peak during April 2016.

Pending sales were mixed m/m across regions. The index for the West improved 0.6% (-4.0% y/y) to the highest level since December. Elsewhere in the country sales fell. For the South, the index declined 1.7% (-0.2% y/y) to the lowest level since January. The index for the Midwest eased 0.7% (-2.8% y/y), also to the lowest level since January. The index in the Northeast slipped 0.3% (+2.4% y/y) following two months of slight increase.

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, 2001=100) Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 109.1 110.0 108.6 -1.3 109.8 108.8 101.2
Northeast 97.7 98.0 97.3 2.4 96.3 90.7 83.9
Midwest 103.3 104.0 104.5 -2.8 107.3 107.1 100.3
South 123.1 125.2 123.4 -0.2 122.8 123.0 115.5
West 102.3 101.7 98.6 -4.0 102.5 102.4 93.1
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