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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fell A Third Month
by Tom Moeller January 25, 2006

According to the National Association of Realtors, total existing home sales fell 5.7% m/m to 6.600M (AR) in December from November which was revised down slightly. Consensus expectations for sales last month had been for a lesser decline to 6.90M.

The decline was third in as many months and lowered sales to a level 10.2% below the June peak. Nevertheless, sales of existing homes set a record last year at 7.049M, up 4.9% year to year.

Sales of single-family homes dropped a sharp 6.8% to 5.73M. This third consecutive monthly decline left sales 10.5% below the June peak. Annual sales last year of 6.157M (4.1%) set a new record. Lower sales of condos & co-ops rose 2.3% (4.8% y/y) in December.

The data cover sales closed in the latest and previous months, and contrast to the new home sales data which count sales at the signing of a contract.

December single family home sales fell throughout the country. Sales in the West broke 11.1% lower (-11.7% y/y), 19.0% off the June peak but for the year up 3.0%. Sales in the Northeast sales dropped 2.5% (-6.1% y/y), 11.5% below the June peak. In the South, sales fell 7.5% (+1.3% y/y) and in the Midwest, single family sales were down for the fifth month in the last six. The 3.6% (-4.3% y/y) decline was to a level 10.8% below the August peak.

The median price of an existing single-family home dropped for the third month from the peak in August. Despite the 1.8% decline to $209,300 (+10.8% y/y), prices for the full year rose 12.8%. Prices are not seasonally adjusted.

The latest release from the National Association of Realtors is available here.

Existing Home Sales (000, AR) Dec Nov Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Home Sales 6,600 7,000 -3.1% 7,049 6,723 6,170
  Single Family Home Sales 5,720 6,140 -4.2% 6,157 5,913 5,441
Single Family Median Home Price ($,000) $209.3 $213.1 10.8% $206.3 $182.8 $169.1
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