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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Continue to Weaken, Dragging Down Prices
by Tom Moeller  October 19, 2018

The housing market softened last month. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes during September declined 3.4% to 5.150 million (SAAR, -4.1%). August's figure was revised slightly lower to 5.330 million. Sales have declined for six consecutive months and were at the lowest level since November 2015, off 10.0% from the November 2017 peak. Expectations had been for 5.31 million sales in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The median price of all existing homes sold declined 2.8% last month (+4.2% y/y) to $258,100. Prices hit a record $273,800 in June. The average sales price fell 2.4% (+2.5% y/y) to $296,800.

By region, home sales in the South declined 5.4% (-0.5% y/y) to 2.110 million units, the lowest point since November 2015. Home sales in the West fell 3.6% (-12.2% y/y) to 1.080 million, also equaling the 2015 low. Home sales in the Northeast fell 2.9% (-5.6% y/y) to 680,000 units. Sales in the Midwest held steady m/m (-1.5% y/y) at 1.280 million units.

Sales of existing single-family homes fell 3.4% last month (-4.0% y/y) to 4.580 million units. Sales of co-ops & condos declined 3.4% (-5.0% y/y) to 570,000 units.

The number of homes on the market increased 1.1% y/y. The supply of homes on the market was little changed at 4.4 months, up from the record low of 3.2 months in December.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability are compiled by the National Association of Realtors and 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) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 5,150 5,330 5,340 -4.1 5,536 5,441 5,228
   Northeast 680 700 660 -5.6 737 735 684
   Midwest 1,280 1,280 1,250 -1.5 1,304 1,298 1,231
   South 2,110 2,230 2,240 -0.5 2,270 2,217 2,147
   West 1,080 1,120 1,190 -12.2 1,225 1,192 1,167
Single-Family 4,580 4,740 4,750 -4.0 4,910 4,825 4,623
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 258,100 265,600 269,300 4.2 245,950 232,067 219,867
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