US: Pending Home Sales Index

Wed Feb 28 09:00:00 CST 2018

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous Revised
Pending Home Sales Index - M/M 0.3% -0.2% to 0.8% -4.7% 0.5% 0.0%
Pending Home Sales Index - Level 104.6 110.1 109.8

Existing home sales appear to be slowing, the latest evidence coming from the pending home sales index which fell an unexpected 4.7 percent in January to a 104.6 level that is the lowest in nearly 3-1/2 years. Today's result points to a third straight decline for final sales of existing homes which fell very sharply in both January and December.

Lack of supply is a key factor holding down sales along with rising mortgage rates, at an average of 4.64 percent for 30-year mortgages as reported earlier this morning by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Regional sales data show wide declines especially for the Northeast which had been rebounding in prior months.

The housing sector accelerated at the end of last year but, despite strong leadership from the new home market, appears to have slowed so far this year.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
Pending home sales have been rising at a steady and moderate rate while final sales of existing home sales have been choppy month-to-month, finishing 2017 on the uptrend but falling sharply in January. The Econoday consensus for the pending sales index, which is for January, is a moderate gain of 0.3 percent.

The National Association of Realtors developed the pending home sales index as a leading indicator of housing activity. Specifically, it is a leading indicator of existing home sales, not new home sales. A pending sale is one in which a contract was signed, but not yet closed. It usually takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.

This provides a gauge of not only the demand for housing, but the economic momentum. People have to be feeling pretty comfortable and confident in their own financial position to buy a house. Furthermore, this narrow piece of data has a powerful multiplier effect through the economy, and therefore across the markets and your investments. By tracking economic data such as the pending home sales index which measures home resales, investors can gain specific investment ideas as well as broad guidance for managing a portfolio.

Even though home resales don't always create new output, once the home is sold, it generates revenues for the realtor. It brings a myriad of consumption opportunities for the buyer. Refrigerators, washers, dryers and furniture are just a few items home buyers might purchase. The economic "ripple effect" can be substantial especially when you think a hundred thousand new households around the country are doing this every month.

Since the economic backdrop is the most pervasive influence on financial markets, home resales have a direct bearing on stocks, bonds and commodities. In a more specific sense, trends in the existing home sales data carry valuable clues for the stocks of home builders, mortgage lenders and home furnishings companies.

The National Association of Realtors moved up its publication schedule in 2011. Prior to 2011, the reference month was two months trailing the release date. In 2011, the reference month trails only by one month to the release month.