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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Surprisingly Reach A 2-Year High
by Tom Moeller  September 19, 2012

Home buying is gaining momentum. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes rose 7.8% last month to a 4.820M annual rate. That followed an unrevised 2.3% July rise. It raised sales to the highest level since May 2010 when the first-time home buyers tax credit was ending. Expectations were for 4.55M sales. Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 8.0% to 4.300M, up 10.0% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series). Sales of condos and co-ops rose 6.1% m/m to 0.520M, up 4.0% y/y.

The median price of an existing home slipped 0.2% (+9.5% y/y) to $187,400. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $245,200 was up 0.6% y/y. In the West, the median price rose 16.3% y/y to $242,000. In the South, the price of $160,100 was up 6.5% y/y and in the Midwest the price rose 7.8% y/y to $152,400.

The supply of homes on the market fell to a seven month low of 6.4 months. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market slipped to 6.2 but for condos & coops it fell sharply m/m to 6.0. The total number of homes on the market rose 2.9% m/m but was down 18.2% y/y. Inventories of single-family homes fell 16.3% y/y while inventories of multi-family homes fell by roughly one-third.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability ticked up slightly m/m but remained 12.5% off the February high. Mortgage payments as a percent of income slipped m/m to 13.7% versus the high of roughly 25% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate fell to 3.78%.

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) Aug Jul Jun Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total 4,820 4,470 4,370 9.3 4,283 4,181 4,329
 Northeast 630 580 540 8.6 544 563 580
 Midwest 1,120 1,040 1,020 17.9 920 908 975
 South 1,900 1,770 1,730 11.1 1,685 1,626 1,640
 West 1,170 1,080 1,080 0.0 1,133 1,083 1,134
Single-Family Sales 4,300 3,980 3,900 10.0 3,797 3,704 3,868
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 187,400 187,800 188,800 9.5 164,542 172,442 172,783
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