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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Tick Higher As Affordability Jumps
by Tom Moeller November 21, 2011

The National Association of Realtors reported that  October sales of existing homes rose 1.4% last month to 4.970M (AR, +13.5% y/y) following a 3.2% September decline, last month reported as -3.0%. The y/y comparison remained sharply positive because of last year's decline after the ending of the first-time home buyers tax credit. The latest reading beat Consensus expectations for 4.80M, according to Action Economics. Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 1.6% m/m to 4.380M, up 13.8% 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 sharply to 8.0, the lowest since January. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market fell to 7.8 but for condos & coops it was a greatly-lessened 9.5 months. The total number of homes on the market fell 13.8% y/y. Inventories of single-family homes fell 12.2% but multi-family home inventories were off nearly twice that.

The median price of all existing homes fell another 2.0% m/m to $162,500 (-4.7% y/y), the lowest level in six months. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $224,400, down -5.5% y/y, compared to a price in the West of $207,500, off 1.6% y/y. In the South, the price of $145,700 was down 1.6% y/y and in the Midwest the price of $132,800 fell 4.7% y/y. As a result of price weakness, the composite index of home price affordability rose 6.6% y/y. Mortgage payments as a percent of income were 13.1% versus the high near 25% in 2006.

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) Oct Sep Aug Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Total 4,970 4,900 5,060 13.5 4,918 5,149 4,894
  Northeast 750 790 770 1.4 825 863 848
  Midwest 1,100 1,070 1,100 19.6 1,076 1,168 1,128
  South 1,940 1,900 1,940 14.1 1,861 1,907 1,857
  West 1,190 1,140 1,250 15.5 1,155 1,214 1,062
Single-Family Sales 4,380 4,310 4,490 13.8 4,311 4,559 4,337
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 162,500 165,800 171,200 -4.7 172,442 172,742 197,233
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