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Economy in Brief

December Existing Home Sales Fell, 2006 Price Gain Weakest on Record
by Tom Moeller January 25, 2006

Sales of existing homes fell 0.8% to 6.220M last month after two consecutive months of slight gain. Sales remained down 14.4% from the peak during June of 2005 and during all of last year sales fell 8.0% from the 2005 average.

Sales of single family homes fell a sharper 1.3% last month after no change during November. Sales were 14.1% lower than during the peak month of June 2005 and sales fell 7.7% for the full year.

Existing single family home prices in December firmed 2.3% for after four consecutive months of decline. Prices remained down 4.0% from the peak this past July but for all of last year posted a 2.3% gain, the weakest on record.

By region, single family home sales fell 1.3% (-2.5% y/y) in the Northeast and were off 5.9% for all of 2005. Out West sales dropped 9.9% (-14.8% y/y) in December but cratered 16.7% for the full year. Sales in the Midwest actually rose 3.2% (-5.1% y/y) in December but posted a 6.1% decline for 2006 and in the South sales ticked up 0.4% (-6.6% y/y), off 3.8% for the year.

The inventory of "homes on the market" dropped a sharp 7.9% (+23.3% y/y) in December, the fourth decline in the last five month. At current sales rates, the inventory of homes for sale amounts to 6.8 months, down from the 7.4 month peak in October.

The broad aggregate data on existing home sales are included in Haver's USECON database; details about prices by region and inventories are available in the REALTOR database.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) December November Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total Sales 6,220 6,270 -7.9% 6,500 7,064 6,722
Single-Family Sales 5,440 5,510 -7.2% 5,697 6,170 5,912
Median Single-Family Home Price (NSA,000s) $221.6 $216.7 0.0% $222.4 $217.5 $192.8
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