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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Add To Earlier Gains; Affordability Hits New High
by Tom Moeller December 21, 2011

Good deals prompt home sales. Such is the message from the National Association of Realtors which reported that November sales of existing homes jumped 4.0% to 4.420M (AR, +12.2% y/y) following a 1.4% October gain. The latest was the highest since January. (The level of home sales was revised  substantially lower back to 2007 as a result of benchmark revision.) Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 4.5% m/m to 3.950M, up 12.9% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series). Sales of condos and co-ops were unchanged m/m at .470M (6.8% y/y).

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability rose 10.8% y/y in October as mortgage payments as a percent of income fell to 12.6% versus the high near 25% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate fell to a new low of 4.32%.

The median price of all existing homes rose 2.1% m/m in November to $164,200 (-3.5% y/y) and made up most of the October decline. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $241,200 was down 1.4% y/y. In the West, the median price of $197,000 was off 9.2% y/y. In the South, the price of $147,800 was down 2.0% y/y and in the Midwest the price of $134,100 fell 3.2% y/y.

The months' supply of homes on the market fell sharply to 7.0, the lowest in two years. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market fell to 7.0 and for condos & coops it was a greatly-lessened 7.1 months. The total number of homes on the market fell 18.1% y/y. Inventories of single-family homes fell 16.1% y/y but multi-family home inventories fell by one-third.

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. 

Jobless Recoveries or Jobless Growth from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Existing Home Sales(Thous, SAAR) Nov Oct Sep Y/Y% 2010 2009 2008
Total 4,420 4,250 4,190 12.2 4,187 4,335 4,106
  Northeast 560 510 540 7.7 565 583 573
  Midwest 960 920 910 15.7 912 983 953
  South 1,740 1,700 1,670 12.3 1,628 1,633 1,596
  West 1,160 1,120 1,170 11.5 1,083 1,138 984
Single-Family Sales 3,950 3,780 3,730 12.9 3.708 3,867 3,655
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 164,200 160,800 165,300 -3.5 172,442 172,783 197,158
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