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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Hold Up As Prices Fell
by Tom Moeller September 25, 2006

Total existing home sales fell just 0.5% during August to 6.30M according to the National Association of Realtors, and it was the sixth decline this year. Though it lowered sales 13.3% below the peak in June of 2005, the decline compared favorably to Consensus expectations for a deeper drop 6.20M.

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

Weakness in home sales perhaps was mitigated by price concessions which lowered the median price of an existing single-family home by 2.3%. The y/y change in prices, at -1.7%, was negative for the first time a modest decline in 1995 and the deepest since a 1.1% drop in early 2003. The price figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Sales of single-family homes were unchanged but have fallen during six months this year and are down 13.0% from the peak in June of 2005. Versus the first eight months of 2005 sales this year are down 6.2%.

Single family home sales were unchanged last month both in the South (-6.5% y/y) and in the Midwest (-12.5% y/y). In the Northeast sales posted a 2.7% rise (-10.5% y/y) which was offset by a 1.7% decline (-22.4% y/y) in the West.

The inventory of unsold existing homes rose another 1.5% (37.9% y/y). The supply of unsold single family homes rose 1.2% (36.2% y/y) and the supply of condos & coops for sale rose 3.1% m/m (49.1% y/y).

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

Slowdown in housing won't shut down economic growth from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Residential mortgage default from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

Existing Home Sales (000, AR) August July Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Home Sales  6,300 6,330 -12.6% 7,064 6,722 6,176
  Single Family Home Sales 5,510 5,510 -12.3% 6,170 5,912 5,443
Single Family Median Home Price (000) $225.7 $230.9 -1.7% $217.5 $192.8 $178.3
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