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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Increase Slightly; Prices Decline
by Tom Moeller  February 23, 2016

The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales nudged 0.4% higher (7.5% y/y) during January to 5.470 million (SAAR). The rise followed a revised 12.1% December jump. Sales were stronger than the 5.36 million called for in the Action Economic Forecast Survey. Sales were revised slightly back to 2013.

Median sales prices of existing homes declined 4.2% last month to $213,800, but remained up 8.2% from one year earlier. The average sales price fell 4.4% to $215,000 (+8.3% y/y).

The number of homes on the market declined 2.2% y/y. The month's supply of homes held at 4.0, near the lowest level since 2005, down from the 11.9 month high in July 2010.

In December, the composite index of housing affordability eased to 161.7, down 5.4% 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.

Whither Mortgages? from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Jan Dec Nov NSA, Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total 5,470 5,450 4,860 7.5 5,254 4,935 5,087
   Northeast 760 740 700 18.2 691 645 658
   Midwest 1,300 1,250 1,120 13.8 1,224 1,131 1,194
   South 2,240 2,240 1,990 4.1 2,151 2,051 2,040
   West 1,170 1,220 1,050 2.9 1,172 1,103 1,188
Single-Family Sales 4,860 4,810 4,260 7.5 4,626 4,344 4,484
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 213,800 223,200 220,000 8.2 219,867 206,708 195,667
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