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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Recover; 2015 Strongest Since 2006
by Tom Moeller  January 22, 2016

The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales jumped 14.7% during December (6.1% y/y) to 5.460 million (SAAR). The rise followed an unrevised 10.5% November decline that reflected new regulations which lengthened the home mortgage closing process, and thereby likely pushed some closings from November into December. Sales were stronger than the 5.12 million called for in the Action Economic Forecast Survey.

Median sales prices of existing homes rose to $224,100 in December, up 7.6% from one year earlier. The increase improved on a 3.7% y/y rise logged in June 2014. The average sales price rose 4.7% y/y.

The number of homes on the market declined 3.8% y/y. The month's supply of homes fell to 3.9, the lowest level since 2005, down from the 11.8 month high in July 2010.

In November, the composite index of housing affordability improved to 167.4, but that was down 2.6% y/y. It remained well below the January 2013 high of 214.5, suggesting that the median income family was less able to afford a median-priced existing home.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability can be found in Haver's USECON database. The regional price, affordability and inventory data are available in the REALTOR database. The expectations figure is from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, reported in the AS1REPNA database.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Dec Nov Oct NSA, Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total 5,460 4,760 5,320 6.1 5,232 4,920 5,074
   Northeast 750 690 760 9.4 686 640 658
   Midwest 1,220 1,100 1,300 6.8 1,224 1,131 1,194
   South 2,270 1,980 2,110 3.9 2,150 2,048 2,032
   West 1,220 990 1,150 7.5 1,172 1,102 1,190
Single-Family Sales 4,820 4,150 4,720 5.7 4,625 4,334 4,473
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 224,100 220,000 219,100 7.6 219,942 206,708 195,667
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