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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Drift Down
by Tom Moeller July 24, 2008

For June the level of existing homes fell 2.6% to 4.86 million, reported the National Association of Realtors. The decline reversed all of a 2.0% increase during May and it was to a new low for this cycle. The figure was weaker than the expected selling rate of 4.94M homes. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops.

Sales of existing single-family homes fell a larger 3.2%. These sales (which have a longer history than the total) were at the lowest level since early-1998.

By region, home sales in the West rose for the fourth straight month and they were up 17.0% from the October '07 low. Elsewhere, sales in the Northeast reversed the increases of the prior four months. In the Midwest total sales fell to near the low for this cycle but sales of single-family homes were at the lowest level since 1997. Sales down South fell to the lowest level since 2000.

Median home prices repeated their May increase and rose 3.5%. Prices were up 10.0% from the February low after a 33% three-month rate of decline in October. However, prices typically firm in the Spring.

The number of unsold homes (condos & single-family) on the market was roughly unchanged m/m (+2.8% y/y). At the current sales rate the inventory rose slightly to an 11.1 months supply which is about the record high for this series. For single-family homes there also was an 11.0 months supply at the current sales rate which was the highest supply since 1985.

The Fed's latest Beige Book which covers regional economic conditions can be found here.

Existing Single Family
Home Sales (Thous)
June y/y % May June '07 2007 2006 2005
Total 4,860 -15.5 4,990 5,750 5,672 6,508 7,076
  Northeast 850 -15.8 910 1,010 1,008 1,090 1,168
  Midwest 1,120 -17.6 1,160 1,360 1,331 1,491 1,589
  South 1,850 -18.1 1,910 2,260 2,240 2,576 2,704
  West 1,030 -6.4 1,020 1,100 1,093 1,353 1,617
Single-Family 4,270 -14.8 4,410 5,010 4,958 5,703 6,181
Median Price, Total, $ 215,100 -6.1 207,900 229,000 216,617 222,000 218,217
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