Markets & Economy

Pending sales down for fifth month in a row in October to lowest level since December

Government shutdown blamed for delaying some closings

Pending home sales dipped for the fifth month in a row in October, falling 0.6 percent from September and 1.6 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since December, the National Association of Realtors said, saying the government shutdown was partly to blame. While the Northeast and Midwest saw modest gains, those were offset by declines in the South and West, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement accompanying the release of the trade group's Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator of sales that's based on contract signings. High-cost regions of the West took the biggest hit, with tight inventory also holding back offers. NAR's Pending Home Sales Index, which stood at 102.1 for the nation as a whole, fell 4.1 percent in the West from September and 12.1 percent from a year ago, to 93.3. An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, when existing-home sales fell within the "normal" range of 5 million to 5.5 m...