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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales & Prices Fell
by Tom Moeller September 24, 2008

The level of existing homes during August fell 2.2% m/m to 4.910 million. The figure, reported by the National Association of Realtors, followed a 3.5% increase during July which was revised up modestly. The figure about matched Consensus expectations for a selling rate of 4.94M homes. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops.

Sales of existing single-family homes fell a lesser 1.4% and have moved sideways since last Fall. These sales have a longer history than the total and they were still near their lowest level since early-1998.

By region, home sales in the Northeast reversed all of their July improvement with a 6.6% (-15.0% y/y) decline. Sales out West also fell 5.3% (+4.9% y/y) and reversed the July increase. Working the other way, sales in the Midwest rose 0.9% (-12.3% y/y) and in the South sales also reversed the July downtick and inched up 0.5% (-15.1% y/y).

Median home prices fell 3.4% last month after a downwardly revised 2.2% drop during July.

The number of unsold homes (condos & single-family) on the market fell 7.0% from July (-2.9% y/y). At the current sales rate the inventory fell slightly to a 10.4 months supply which is near the record high for this series. For single-family homes, however, the inventory fell a bit more to a 10.0 months supply at the current sales rate. That was down from an 11.0 months supply in June.

Why Do Chinese Households Save So Much? from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Existing Home Sales (Thous) August y/y % July August '07 2007 2006 2005
Total 4,910 -10.7 5,020 5,500 5,672 6,508 7,076
  Northeast 850 -15.0 910 1,000 1,008 1,090 1,168
  Midwest 1,140 -12.3 1,130 1,300 1,331 1,491 1,589
  South 1,860 -15.1 1,850 2,190 2,240 2,576 2,704
  West 1,070 4.9 1,130 1,020 1,093 1,353 1,617
Single-Family 4,350 -9.6 4,410 4,810 4,958 5,703 6,181
Median Price, Total, $ 203,100 -9.5 210,300 224,400 216,617 222,000 218,217
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