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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fell; Single-Family Sales Lowest Since 1997
by Tom Moeller December 23, 2008

U.S. existing home sales fell 8.6% last month versus October to pull sales down to 4,490 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. The decline during the prior month was revised slightly and the latest was much greater than Consensus expectations for sales of 4.93M homes. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops.

Median home prices fell 2.8% (NSA) last month, about as they did during October and it was the fifth consecutive monthly drop. That pulled the y/y comparison to -13.2%. Prices have fallen 21.0% since their peak in June 2007.

Sales of existing single-family homes followed a similar pattern as the total and fell 8.0% after a revised 4.6% during October. Sales of existing homes are down by one-third from their peak in mid-2005.

The latest drop in single-family home sales was to the lowest since 1997, is from a trend line this year that had been roughly stable and moving sideways.

By region, home sales in the Northeast led last month's decline with a 12.0% drop and they were down nearly twenty percent from last year. In the South sales also were quite weak as they posted a 10.9% drop. In the West sales sales fell about they did during October, by 4.3%. Sales in the Midwest fell 7.4%, like they did during October.

The number of unsold homes (condos & single-family) on the market ticked up 0.1%, about as they did year-to-year. At the current sales rate there as a 11.2 months' supply on the market which was near the series' high.. For single-family homes the inventory rose m/m to a 10.6 months supply at the current sales rate, also near the high.

Existing Home Sales (Thous) November y/y % October November '07 2007 2006 2005
Total 4,490 -10.6 4,910 5,020 5,672 6,508 7,076
  Northeast 730 -18.0 830 890 1,008 1,090 1,168
  Midwest 1,000 -16.0 1,080 1,190 1,331 1,491 1,589
  South 1,640 -17.6 1,840 1,990 2,240 2,576 2,704
  West 1,120 17.9 1,170 950 1,093 1,353 1,617
Single-Family 4,020 -8.8 4,370 4,410 4,958 5,703 6,181
Median Price, Total, $ 181,300 -13.2 186,500 208,800 216,617 222,000 218,217
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