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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  March 22, 2019

The housing market recovered last month following a year's decline. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes jumped 11.8% (-1.8% y/y) during February to 5.510 million units (SAAR) from 4.930 million in January, revised from 4.940 million. It was the highest level of sales since March 2017. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected sales of 5.90 million units.

The median price of all existing homes sold was little changed m/m (3.6% y/y) at $249,500. Prices hit a record $273,800 in June. The average sales price also was steady m/m (2.7% y/y) at $288,200. Sales price data are not seasonally adjusted.

Existing home sales exhibited mixed behavior m/m throughout the country. In the West, sales jumped 16.0% (-7.9% y/y) to 1.160 million. Sales in the South improved 14.9% (-0.4% y/y) to 2.390 million, while sales in the Midwest strengthened 9.5% to 1.270 million (unchanged y/y). In the Northeast, sales held steady m/m (1.5% y/y) at 690,000.

Sales of existing single-family homes recovered 13.3% (-1.4% y/y) to 4.940 million units, the strongest reading in twelve months. Sales of condos and co-ops held steady m/m (-5.0% y/y) at 570,000 units.

The number of homes on the market increased 3.2% y/y. The months' supply of homes on the market eased to 3.5, the lowest level in a year and down from a high of 4.4 months in September.

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) Feb Jan Nov Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Total 5,510 4,930 5,000 -1.8 5,341 5,531 5,437
   Northeast 690 690 680 1.5 689 735 733
   Midwest 1,270 1,160 1,190 0.0 1,265 1,301 1,297
   South 2,390 2,080 2,100 -0.4 2,246 2,270 2,215
   West 1,160 1,000 1,030 -7.9 1,141 1,225 1,192
Single-Family 4,940 4,360 4,450 -1.4 4,742 4,907 4,822
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 249,500 249,300 254,700 3.6 257,267 245,950 232,067
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