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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise To New High As Prices Fall
by Tom Moeller February 22, 2012

Sales of existing homes rose in January to a 4.570M annual rate (0.7% y/y) from a revised 4.380M during December, last month reported as 4.610M. The latest was the highest since May 2010. Data back to 2009 were revised. Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 3.8% last month to 4.050M, up 2.3% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series). Sales of condos and co-ops rose 8.3% m/m to .520M (-10.3% y/y).

Falling to its lowest in ten years, the median price of existing homes fell 4.6% m/m in January to $154,700 (-2.0% y/y). December's level was revised down. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $225,700 was down 4.2% y/y. In the West, the median price of $187,100 fell 1.8% y/y. In the South, the price of $134,800 was down 0.3% y/y and in the Midwest the price of $122,000 fell 3.9% y/y.

The months' supply of homes on the market fell to 6.1, the lowest since March, 2006. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market fell to 6.1 and for condos & coops it was a new low of 5.8 months. The total number of homes on the market fell by nearly one-quarter y/y to the lowest since 2005. Inventories of single-family homes fell 18.9% y/y but multi-family home inventories were off by one-third.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability rose 8.8% y/y in December as mortgage payments as a percent of income were 12.8%, versus the high near 25% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate slipped to 4.27%.

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.

FOMC Communication Policy and the Accuracy of Fed Funds Futures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here here.

Existing Home Sales (Thous, SAAR) Jan Dec Nov Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total 4,570 4,380 4,400 0.7 4,283 4,181 4,329
  Northeast 600 580 540 7.1 544 563 580
  Midwest 980 970 980 3.2 920 908 975
  South 1,760 1,700 1,740 0.0 1,685 1,626 1,640
  West 1,230 1,130 1,140 -3.1 1,133 1,083 1,134
Single-Family Sales 4,050 3,900 3,950 2.3 3,797 3,704 3,868
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 154,700 162,200 164,000 -2.0 164,542 172,442 172,783
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