Recent Updates

  • Lebanon: Public Debt (Nov-Prelim)
  • Serbia: New Business Loans (Dec)
  • Germany: GfK Consumer Climate Survey (Jan)
  • France: Registered Unemployment and Vacancies (Dec), Monthly Household Survey (Jan)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Slip During March As Prices Firm
by Tom Moeller April 23, 2009

The lower price-higher sales story from the housing market seemed to reverse last month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales of existing homes fell 3.0% last month to 4.57M and that reversed most of February' 4.9% gain. Consensus expectations had been for March sales of 4.65M homes. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops. In each of the country's regions sales during February roughly recovered their January declines.

Working the other way were median home prices which rose 4.2% after an upwardly revised 2.1% increase. These gains may reflect, however, the end of the winter doldrums. Prices have fallen 23.5% since their peak. Declines in home prices and lower interest rates have gone a long way to increase the affordability of an existing home which is up roughly one-quarter from one year ago. The measure rose in February to a record high for the series which dates back to 1971.

Sales of existing single-family homes alone also reversed most of the earlier month's gain with a 2.8% m/m decline to 4.100M units. Sales remained near the lowest level since July 1997 and they have been essentially flat for the last four months. (These data have a longer history than the total series).

The number of unsold homes (condos & single-family) on the market reversed a portion of their February increase with a 1.6% decline. Year-to-year inventories are down 9.3%. At the current sales rate there was a 9.8 months' supply on the market which was near the lowest since 2007. For single-family homes the inventory also fell slightly by 1.2% (-9.7% y/y). At the current sales rate there was a 9.3 month's supply, near the lowest since 2007.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability can be found in Haver's USECON database. The regional price, affordability and inventory data is available in the REALTOR database.

Global Economy Contracts, With Slow Recovery Next Year from the International Monetary Fund can be found here.

Existing Home Sales (Thous) March February March y/y % March '08 2008 2007 2006
Total 4,570 4,710 -7.1 4,920 4,893 5,674 6,516
  Northeast 690 750 -22.5 890 845 1,010 1,093
  Midwest 1,040 1,040 -11.1 1,170 1,130 1,331 1,494
  South 1,710 1,740 -10.9 1,920 1,860 2,243 2,577
  West 1,130 1,180 18.9 950 1,064 1,095 1,357
Single-Family 4,100 4,220 -5.7 4,350 4,341 4,960 5,712
Median Price, Total, $ 175,200 168,200 -12.4 200,100 197,250 216,633 222,042
large image