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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise As Prices Fall
by Tom Moeller  September 21, 2011

The National Association of Realtors reported that August sales of existing homes rose 7.7% to 5.030M (AR, 18.6% y/y) from an unrevised 4.670 in July. The y/y comparison is positive because of last year's decline after the ending of the first-time home buyers tax credit. The latest reading was stronger than Consensus expectations for 4.75M, according to Action Economics. Total sales include sales of condos and co-ops. Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 8.5% m/m to 4.470M (20.2% y/y). (These data have a longer history than the total sales series.) Sales of condos and co-ops rose 1.8% m/m to .560M (8.3% y/y).

The months' supply of homes on the market fell to 8.5, the lowest since March. The number of homes on the market fell 13.1% y/y. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market was 8.3 but for condos & coops, it was 10.5 months.

The median price of all existing homes fell 1.7% m/m to $168,300 (-5.1% y/y) from a downwardly revised $171,200. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $244,100 (-5.1% y/y) compared to a price in the West of $189,400 which was down a sharper 13.0% y/y. In the Midwest the average price of $141,700 was down a lesser 3.5% y/y and in the South the price of $151,000 was down 0.8% y/y.

As a result of the price decline, the composite index of home price affordability rose 7.6% y/y. Nevertheless, it remained down from the highs of early this year as the payment as a percent of income rose to 14.1% from a low of 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.

Existing Home Sales (Thous, SAAR) Aug Jul Jun Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Total 5,030 4,670 4,840 18.6 4,918 5,149 4,894
  Northeast 770 750 730 10.0 825 863 848
  Midwest 1,090 1,050 1,040 26.7 1,076 1,168 1,128
  South 1,940 1,840 1,870 16.9 1,861 1,907 1,857
  West 1,230 1,040 1,190 20.9 1,155 1,214 1,062
Single-Family Sales 4,470 4,120 4,290 20.2 4,311 4,559 4,337
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 168,300 171,200 175,600 -5.1 172,442 172,742 197,233
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