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First Cut: NAR Pending Home Sales Index down for a third month in a row in December

The NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for December declined 2.2%, decreasing for third straight month. The index was down 9.8% compared to December 2017. The index was lower in three of four regions, the largest of which was a 5.0% decline in the South followed by down 2.0% in the Northeast and 0.6% in the Midwest. The West had an increase of 1.7%. However, all four regions were lower compared to a year-ago.

Sales under contract have been declining, in part due to consumers worried about home affordability related to rising prices and higher mortgage interest rates in November and December, and in part due to limited supplies of the more desirable units. The data do not suggest any pickup in existing homes sales for January.

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