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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Bounce in November to 3-Year High
by Carol Stone  December 20, 2012

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes increased 5.9% in November to a 5.040M annual rate, the highest since November 2009. October's sales total was revised down slightly to 4.760M from 4.790 reported last month. The November total well exceeded Consensus forecasts for 4.860M units. Sales of existing single-family homes alone rose 5.5% to 4.440M and were up 12.4% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series). Sales of condos and co-ops rose 9.1% m/m to 0.600M, up 33.3% y/y. Both single-family and condo/co-op sales were their highest since November 2009. The NAR news release indicated that sales might have been stronger still, if not for Hurricane Sandy just as the month got under way.

Median home prices rose 2.1% m/m to $180,600, up 10.1% y/y. This was a second consecutive month with yearly gains at or above 10%, extending the markedly improving trend in prices to a ninth month. These gains have been strongest in the West, where the median price was up 23.9% y/y to $248,300. In the South, the November price of $157,400 was up 10.5% y/y and in the Midwest the price rose 7.0% y/y to $141,600. Prices in the Northeast have not seen such improvement as the median sales price of $232,900 was actually 2.0% below a year ago, although prices there had recovered somewhat from the recessionary collapse in 2010, earlier than in other regions.

The supply of homes on the market fell to 4.8 months, the lowest since October 2005. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market dropped to 4.9 and for condos & coops, it fell to 4.5 months. The total number of homes on the market continued its steady decline and fell 3.8% m/m, down 22.5% y/y. Inventories of single-family homes fell 22.7% y/y while inventories of multi-family homes fell 22.8%.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability for October rose for a fourth consecutive month but remained 1.1% below a year ago. Mortgage payments as a percent of income edged down m/m to 12.6% versus the high of roughly 25.0% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate continued to decline, reaching 3.57%.

Summary 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 consensus forecast figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Existing Home Sales (Thous, SAAR)
Nov Oct Sep Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 5,040 4,760 4,690 14.5 4,283 4,181 4,329
  Northeast 620 580 590 14.8 544 563 580
  Midwest 1,190 1,110 1,090 21.4 920 908 975
  South 2,040 1,890 1,880 17.2 1,685 1,626 1,640
  West 1,190 1,180 1,130 4.4 1,133 1,083 1,134
Single-Family Sales 4,440 4,210 4,140 12.4 3,797 3,704 3,868
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 180,600 178,600 178,300 10.1 164,542 172,442 172,783
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