The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) is released by the National Association of Realtors to measure housing contract activity. Released during the first week of each month, the index is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos and co-ops. A pending sale is not counted as a sale until the transaction is closed. Hence, one must understand that pending home sales index is a leading indicator for existing home sales, not new home sales. It only helps to predict actual home sales activity as pending home sales generally become existing home sales one to two months later.
The index not only provides a gauge for housing demand, but also economic strength. Increase in the index shows that people are in good financial positions to purchase new homes. Furthermore, this index has a powerful multiplier effect through the economy. The multiplier effect can be seen from the realtor's point of view and also from the home buyer's point of view. Each time a home is resold, it will generate income for the realtors. Increase in income will lead to more consumption opportunities. As for the home buyers, consumer spending will also increase since they will have to purchase furniture and electrical appliances to furnish the new home. Trends in the pending sales data also has direct influence on stocks of home builders, mortgage lenders, and home furnishing companies.