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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fell, Prices Rose
by Tom Moeller April 22, 2008

According to the National Association of Realtors, March sales of existing home sales fell 2.0% m/m to 4.930M. The drop reversed most of February's unrevised 2.9% increase and it was as expected.

The downward momentum behind last year's sales declines continued to look like it's flattened out. During the last three months sales were about even with the yearend '07 level.

Despite a 2.6% one month rise in median home prices, the trend still is lower. The gain followed three consecutive months of decline and the three month average of home prices fell to a new cycle low, 12.6% below the high last August.

Sales of existing single family homes in March fell 2.7% to 4.350M and reversed all of February's gain.

By region, home sales in the Midwest fell a hard 6.5% (-15.9% y/y) while sales in the South also fell by 3.5% (-20.0% y/y). In the Northeast sales rose for the second consecutive month following three months of decline. Sales in the West rose a modest 2.2% after two months of decline.

The number of unsold homes on the market rose a modest 1.0% (6.6% y/y). At the current sales rate the inventory still amounts to a 9.9 months supply which is barely down from last year's peak. For single family homes there is a 9.5 months supply at the current sales rate and for condos and co-ops there is a 12.8 months supply.

New Monetary Policy Tools? from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Existing Single Family
Home Sales (Thous)
March y/y % February March '07 2007 2006 2005
Total 4,930 -19.3 5,030 6,110 5,672 6,508 7,076
  Northeast 910 -18.8 890 1,120 1,008 1,090 1,168
  Midwest 1,160 -15.9 1,240 1,380 1,331 1,491 1,589
  South 1,920 -20.0 1,990 2,400 2,240 2,576 2,704
  West 940 -22.3 920 1,210 1,093 1,353 1,617
Single-Family 4,350 -18.4 4,470 5,330 4,958 5,703 6,181
Median Price, Total, $ 200,700 -7.7 195,600 217,400 216,617 222,000 218,217
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