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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Decline While Prices Increase
by Tom Moeller  January 22, 2013

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell 1.0% (+12.8% y/y) during December to a 4.940M annual rate. The gain followed a downwardly revised 4.8% November rise to 4.990M, initially reported as 5.040M. The latest fell short of Consensus expectations for 5.10M sales. For the year, sales rose 9.0% to 4.666M following a 2.4% rise in 2011. Sales of existing single-family homes alone declined 1.4% to 4.350M, up 11.5% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series.) Sales of condos and co-ops rose 3.6% m/m to 0.570M, up 21.3% y/y.

Despite fewer sales, home pricing improved. The median price of an existing home rose 0.8% (11.5% y/y) to $180,800. For the year, prices rose 6.7% to an average $175,492. That rise followed five consecutive years of decline. In the West, the median price rose 17.3% y/y to $239,900. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $231,600 was up 5.3% y/y. In the South, the price of $161,100 was up 11.0% y/y and in the Midwest the price rose 12.3% y/y to $144,800.

The supply of homes on the market fell to a seven year low of 4.4 months. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market also fell to 4.4 months and for condos & coops it held at 4.6 months. The total number of homes on the market continued its steady decline and fell 8.5% m/m, down 21.6% y/y. Inventories of single-family homes fell 21.2% y/y while inventories of multi-family homes fell 23.0%.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability ticked up 0.8% y/y. Mortgage payments as a percent of income held roughly stable m/m at 12.6% versus the high of roughly 25.0% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate fell to 3.50%.

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) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total 4,940 4,990 4,760 12.8 4,666 4,283 4,181
Northeast 640 620 580 10.3 599 544 563
Midwest 1,120 1,190 1,110 15.5 1,067 920 908
South 1,950 2,010 1,890 14.7 1,834 1,685 1,626
West 1,230 1,170 1,180 8.8 1,166 1,133 1,083
Single-Family Sales 4,350 4,410 4,210 11.5 4,135 3,797 3,704
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 180,800 179,400 176,900 11.5 175,492 164,542 172,442
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