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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Decline
by Tom Moeller  October 19, 2012

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell 1.7% last month to a 4.750M annual rate. The decline followed an upwardly revised 8.1% August rise and roughly matched expectations. Sales of existing single-family homes alone fell 1.9% to 4.210M, up 10.8% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series). Sales of condos and co-ops were unchanged m/m at 0.540M, up 12.5% y/y.

The median price of an existing home slipped 0.5% (+11.3% y/y) to $183,900, the third straight month of decline. In the West, the median price rose 18.4% y/y to $246,300. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $238,700 was up 4.1% y/y. In the South, the price of $163,600 was up 13.1% y/y and in the Midwest the price rose 7.0% y/y to $145,200.

The supply of homes on the market fell to a seven month low of 5.9 months. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market fell to 5.8 but for condos & coops it ticked up to 6.3 months. The total number of homes on the market fell 3.3% m/m and was down 20.0% y/y. Inventories of single-family homes fell 18.1% y/y while inventories of multi-family homes fell by roughly one-third y/y.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability rose slightly m/m but remained 11.9% off the February high. Mortgage payments as a percent of income slipped m/m to 13.5% versus the high of roughly 25.0% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate fell to 3.70%.

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. Estimating a Structural Model of Herd Behavior in Financial Markets from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

 

Existing Home Sales (Thous, SAAR) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y% 2011 2010 2009
Total 4,750 4,830 4,470 11.0 4,283 4,181 4,329
Northeast 590 630 580 7.3 544 563 580
Midwest 1,100 1,110 1,040 19.6 920 908 975
South 1,930 1,920 1,770 14.2 1,685 1,626 1,640
West 1,130 1,170 1,080 0.9 1,133 1,083 1,134
Single-Family Sales 4,210 4,290 3,980 10.8 3,797 3,704 3,868
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 183,900 184,900 187,800 11.3 164,542 172,442 172,783
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