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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fall
by Tom Moeller  April 19, 2012

Sales of existing homes fell 2.6% last month to a 4.480 annual rate (+5.2% y/y) from a revised 4.600M during February, last month reported as 4.590M. Despite the decline, sales remained near the highest since May 2010. Sales of existing single-family homes alone fell 2.5% last month to 3.970M, up 5.9% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series). Sales of condos and co-ops declined 3.8% m/m to 0.510M and were unchanged y/y.

The median price of an existing home rose 5.3% (2.5% y/y) to $163,800. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $228,300 was down 1.9% y/y. In the West, the median price rose 2.5% y/y to $198,300. In the South, the price of $146,500 was up 6.2% y/y and in the Midwest the price of $132,800 rose 5.2% y/y.

The months' supply of homes on the market was stable at 6.3 and that was near the lowest since March, 2006. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market ticked up to 6.3 and for condos & coops it slipped to 7.1. The total number of homes on the market fell m/m and was down 21.8% y/y to the lowest since 2005. Inventories of single-family homes fell 20.1% y/y while inventories of multi-family homes were off nearly one-third.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability rose 8.9% y/y in February to another record high as mortgage payments as a percent of income held at 12.1% versus the high of roughly 25% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate slipped to 4.21%.

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) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total 4,480 4,600 4,630 5.2 4,283 4,181 4,329
 Northeast 580 590 600 5.5 544 563 580
 Midwest 1,020 1,020 1,010 15.9 920 908 975
 South 1,750 1,770 1,760 3.6 1,685 1,626 1,640
 West 1,130 1,220 1,260 -0.9 1,133 1,083 1,134
Single-Family Sales 3,970 4,060 4,100 9.4 3,797 3,704 3,868
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 163,800 156,600 154,600 0.3 164,542 172,442 172,783
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