Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

December 2020 Pending Home Sales

NAR released a summary of pending home sales data showing that December’s pending home sales pace declined 0.3% last month but rose 21.4% from a year ago.

Bar chart: Pending Home Sales Index, December 2019 to December 2020

Pending sales represent homes that have a signed contract to purchase on them but have yet to close. They tend to lead Existing-Home Sales data by 1 to 2 months.

All four regions showed strong gains with double increases from a year ago. The South had the biggest gain in contract signings of 26.6% followed by the Northeast with an increase of 22.1%. The West had an incline of 18.9% followed by the Midwest with the smallest gain of 13.9%.

Bar chart: December U.S. and Regional Pending Sales, 2020 and 2019

From last month, only the Midwest experienced declines in contract signings. The Midwest had a decline of 3.6%. The Northeast had an incline of 3.1% followed by the South with a gain of 0.1%.  The West region was flat.   

The U.S. pending home sales index level for the month was 125.5.

December’s increase brings the pending index above the 100-level mark for the seventh consecutive month since February 2020.

Line graph: U.S. and Regional Pending Home Sales Index, February 2019 to December 2020

The 100 level is based on a 2001 benchmark and is consistent with a healthy market and existing-home sales above the 5 million mark.