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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Jump
by Tom Moeller  January 20, 2011

The National Association of Realtors reported that December sales of existing homes jumped 12.3% to 5.280M following an upwardly revised 6.1% November increase. December sales exceeded Consensus expectations for 4.86M. For the full year, sales fell 4.7% from 2009. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops. Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 11.8% (-2.5% y/y) from November to 4.64M. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series.) Sales of condos and co-ops jumped 16.4% m/m but rose 2.2% during all of 2010.

The median price of all existing homes fell 0.8% m/m to $168,800, the sixth consecutive monthly decline. Though prices remained off one-quarter from the 2007 peak, they have risen a modest 2.6% from the February low. The price of a single-family home fell 0.9% last month to $169,300 (-0.2% y/y). Earlier price weakness sharply raised home affordability to a record high, up more than two-thirds from the 2006 low. Also of help was a drop in the mortgage interest rate to a new low of 4.54% during November. The median family income for existing home buyers was $61,819 and mortgage payments amounted to 13.5% of that total.

The number of unsold homes (single-family & co-ops) for sale fell in December to 3.560 mil. but were up 8.4% y/y. At the current sales rate, the months' supply of homes on the market fell m/m to 8.1, near the cycle low and well off the record high of 12.5. For single-family homes, the inventory also fell m/m to a 7.7 months' supply.

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

Existing Home Sales (Thous, SAAR) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total 5,280 4,700 4,430 -2.9% 4,919 5,160 4,893
 Northeast 870 770 750 -5.4 824 863 845
 Midwest 1,110 1,000 940 -4.3 1,077 1,166 1,130
 South 1,970 1,790 1,710 -2.5 1,970 1,913 1,860
 West 1,330 1,140 1,030 -1.5 1,158 1,216 1,064
Single-Family Sales 4,640 4,150 3,890 -2.5 4,315 4,573 4,341
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 168,800 170,200 170,400 -1.0 172,458 172,742 197,233
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