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Economy in Brief

U.S. Pending Home Sales Hold Steady
by Tom Moeller  October 26, 2017

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that pending home sales held steady (-3.5% y/y) during September at an index level of 106.0 (2001=100). This followed a revised 2.8% August decline, initially reported as -2.6%. Sales remained at the lowest level since January 2016 and were 6.7% below the peak during April 2016.

Changes in pending home sales were mixed m/m across regions of the country. In the South, the index declined 2.3% (-5.0% y/y), off 10.4% from the March 2017 peak. The index for the Midwest gained 1.4% (-2.5% y/y), but remained down 8.4% from its March 2016 peak. The index for the West rose 1.9% (-2.9% y/y) and remained up sharply versus early this month. The index for the Northeast improved 1.2% (-2.4% y/y) from the lowest level since late-2015.

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) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 106.0 106.0 109.1 -3.5 109.8 108.8 101.2
Northeast 94.5 93.4 97.7 -2.4 96.3 90.7 83.9
Midwest 102.9 101.5 103.3 -2.5 107.3 107.1 100.3
South 115.9 118.6 123.1 -5.0 122.8 123.0 115.5
West 102.7 100.8 102.3 -2.9 102.5 102.4 93.1
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