Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

January 2021 Pending Home Sales Highlights

NAR released a summary of pending home sales data showing that January’s pending home sales pace declined 2.8% last month but rose 13% from a year ago.

Bar chart: Pending Home Sales Index January 2020 to January 2021

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 from a year ago. The South had the biggest gain in contract signings of 17.1% followed by the West with an increase of 11.5%. The Northeast had an increase of 9.6% followed by the Midwest with the smallest gain of 8.6%.

Bar chart: January US and Regional Pending Sales in 2021 and 2020

From last month, only the South experienced a modest gain of 0.1% in contract signings. The Midwest had a decline of 0.9% followed by the Northeast with a dip of 7.4%.  The West region had the largest decrease of 7.8%.   

The U.S. pending home sales index level for the month was 122.8.

January’s increase brings the pending index above the 100-level mark for the ninth consecutive month.

Line graph: U.S. and Regional Pending Home Sales Index as of January 2021

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.