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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Flat for Several Months
by Tom Moeller June 26, 2008

The National Association of Realtors reported that, in May, sales of existing homes rose 2.0% to 4.99M after two months of slight decline. The figure was about as expected. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops.

The latest level of sales is near the low reached last November after having declined by one-third from the 2005 peak.

Sales of existing single family homes rose 1.6% and, together with the overall series, were about level with this past Winter. Nevertheless, the series for single family homes (which has a longer history than the total) indicated that sales were at the lowest level since early-1998.

By region, home sales in the West rose 2.0% for the third month of meaningful increase. Elsewhere sales in the Northeast and in the Midwest offset sharp April declines while sales down South fell to a new low.

Median home prices rose 3.7% last month. Prices were up 6.6% from their February low after versus a 33% rate of decline last Fall. Indeed, prices may have firmed with sales after the one-third rate of decline this past Winter. However, prices typically firm come Spring.

The number of unsold homes on the market fell 1.4% (+2.4% y/y). At the current sales rate the inventory still amounts to 10.8 months supply which is near the record series high. For single family homes there was a 10.4 months supply at the current sales rate.

Existing Single Family
Home Sales (Thous)
May y/y % April May '07 2007 2006 2005
Total 4,990 -15.9 4,890 5,930 5,672 6,508 7,076
  Northeast 910 -15.0 870 1,070 1,008 1,090 1,168
  Midwest 1,160 -16.5 1,100 1,390 1,331 1,491 1,589
  South 1,910 -17.0 1,920 2,300 2,240 2,576 2,704
  West 1,020 -12.8 1,000 1,170 1,093 1,353 1,617
Single-Family 4,410 -14.5 4,340 5,160 4,958 5,703 6,181
Median Price, Total, $ 208,600 -6.3 201,200 219,900 216,617 222,000 218,217
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