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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales and Prices Decline
by Tom Moeller  March 21, 2016

The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales declined 7.1% to 5.080 million (SAAR, +2.2% y/y) from an unrevised 5.470 million in January. It was the lowest level of sales in three months. Sales of 5.36 million had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Purchases of single-family homes declined 7.2% (+2.0% y/y) to 4.510 million.

A 17.1% decline (+5.0% y/y) to 630,000 in the Northeast led the decline in overall sales. It was followed by a 3.8% decline in the Midwest to 1.120 million, which remained unchanged y/y. In the West, sales declined 3.4% (+0.9% y/y) to 1.130 million, and in the South sales were off 1.8% (+3.3% y/y) to 2.200 million.

The inventory of unsold homes rose 3.3% (-1.1% y/y). The sales supply inched up to 4.4 months, though it remained near the recovery low.

The median price for an existing home declined 1.4% (NSA, +4.4%y/y) to $210,800 following a 4.3% January shortfall. For an existing single-family home, prices fell 1.2% (+4.3% y/y) to $212,300. The composite index of home affordability increased 5.2% (-6.5% y/y), and remained up 10.7% from its July low.

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) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total 5,080 5,470 5,450 2.2 5,254 4,935 5,087
   Northeast 630 760 740 5.0 691 645 658
   Midwest 1,120 1,300 1,250 0.0 1,224 1,131 1,194
   South 2,200 2,240 2,240 3.3 2,151 2,051 2,040
   West 1,130 1,170 1,220 0.9 1,172 1,103 1,188
Single-Family Sales 4,510 4,860 4,810 2.0 4,626 4,344 4,484
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 210,800 213,700 223,200 4.4 219,867 206,708 195,667
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