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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Improve Somewhat
by Tom Moeller  April 20, 2011

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes rose during March to 5.100M (AR) from a February level of 4.920M, revised from 4.880M. The last was slightly higher than Consensus expectations for 5.00M sales according to Action Economics. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops. Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 4.0% (-6.5% y/y) from February to 4.450M. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series.) Sales of condos and co-ops rose 1.6% m/m (-4.1% y/y).

The inventory of unsold homes rose 1.5% m/m but was down 2.1 y/y. It was down nearly one-quarter from the 2008 high and amounted to an 8.4 months' supply.

The median price of all existing homes rose 2.2% m/m to $159,600, the first monthly increase since last June. Nevertheless, prices remained near the lowest level in ten years. The price of a single-family home rose 2.3% last month to $160,500 (-5.3% y/y). Price weakness left home affordability at a record high, up more than two-thirds from the 2006 low. As a percent of income, mortgage payments fell to 13.0%.

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. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Can Rising Housing Prices Explain China's High Household Saving Rate? from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

Existing Home Sales (Thous, SAAR) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Total 5,100 4,920 5,400 -6.3 4,918 5,149 4,894
  Northeast 800 770 830 -12.1 825 863 848
  Midwest 1,060 1,050 1,150 -13.1 1,076 1,168 1,128
  South 1,990 1,840 2,050 -1.0 1,861 1,907 1,857
  West 1,250 1,260 1,370 -3.1 1,155 1,214 1,062
Single-Family Sales 4,450 4,280 4,700 -6.5 4,311 4,559 4,337
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 159,600 156,100 157,900 -5.9 172,442 172,742 197,233
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