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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales and Prices Near Recovery High
by Tom Moeller  May 20, 2016

Sales of existing homes increased 1.7% (6.0% y/y) to 5.450 million (SAAR) during April from 5.360 million in March, revised from 5.330 million. Sales have been notably volatile m/m during the past year, but the latest reading was just shy of the high reached during the economic recovery. It remained down sharply, however, versus the record high reached in 2005. The latest result outpaced the improvement to 5.390 million sales expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Existing single-family home sales edged 0.6% higher to 4.810 million (6.2% y/y) last month following a 6.0% rise.

The median price of all previously owned homes increased 5.0% to $232,500 (6.3% y/y) from an downwardly revised $221,500. Annualized growth in prices has been roughly steady for the past two years, but falls short of the double-digit growth in 2013. The average price of an existing home increased 4.0% to $275,000 (4.2% y/y).

Home sales were strongest last month in the Midwest where they posted a 12.1% gain (12.1% y/y) to 1.390 million. That rise was followed by a 2.8% increase (17.5% y/y) in the Northeast to 740,000. Previously owned home sales in the South declined 2.7% (+4.3% y/y) to 2.190 million. Sales in the West eased 1.7% (-3.4% y/y) to 1.130 million.

The number of existing homes on the market declined 3.6% y/y, and the months' supply of homes rose to 4.7, about where it's been for three years.

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) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total 5,450 5,360 5,070 6.0 5,254 4,935 5,087
   Northeast 740 720 630 17.5 691 645 658
   Midwest 1,390 1,240 1,120 12.1 1,240 1,136 1,201
   South 2,190 2,250 2,190 4.3 2,151 2,051 2,040
   West 1,130 1,150 1,130 -3.4 1,172 1,103 1,188
Single-Family Sales 4,810 4,780 4,510 6.2 4,626 4,344 4,484
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 232,500 221,500 212,100 6.3 219,867 206,708 195,667
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