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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Slip As Prices Tick Up
by Tom Moeller  March 21, 2012

Sales of existing homes edged down in February to a 4.590M annual rate (+8.8% y/y) from a revised 4.630M during January, last month reported as 4.570M. Despite the edge down, sales remained near the highest since May 2010. Sales of existing single-family homes alone slipped 1.0% last month to 4.060M, up 9.4% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series). Sales of condos and co-ops were unchanged m/m at .530M (3.9% y/y).

The median price of an existing home rose a modest 1.3% (0.3% y/y) to $156,600. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $225,800 was down 1.9% y/y. In the West, the median price rose 3.1% y/y to $195,300. In the South, the price of $138,100 was up 1.8% y/y and in the Midwest the price of $120,500 fell 0.5% y/y.

The months' supply of homes on the market rose to 6.4 but that still was near the lowest since March, 2006. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market inched up to 6.2 and for condos & coops it rose to 7.3, reversing the sharp January decline. The total number of homes on the market rose moderately m/m but was down 19.3% y/y to the lowest since 2005. Inventories of single-family homes fell 18.2% y/y while inventories of multi-family home were off by one-quarter.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability rose 8.6% y/y in January to another record high as mortgage payments as a percent of income fell to a new low of 12.1%, versus the high of roughly 25% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate rose ten basis points to 4.37%.

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) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total 4,590 4,630 4,380 8.8 4,283 4,181 4,329
  Northeast 580 600 580 5.5 544 563 580
  Midwest 1,020 1,010 970 13.3 920 908 975
  South 1,770 1,760 1,700 9.3 1,685 1,626 1,640
  West 1,220 1,260 1,130 6.1 1,133 1,083 1,134
Single-Family Sales 4,060 4,100 3,900 9.4 3,797 3,704 3,868
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 156,600 154,600 162,200 0.3 164,542 172,442 172,783
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