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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales & Prices Improve
by Tom Moeller  March 21, 2013

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes improved 0.8% (10.2% y/y) during February to a 4.98M annual rate. The increase followed an upwardly revised 0.8% January rise. The latest fell short of Consensus expectations for 5.00M sales. Sales of existing single-family homes alone slipped 0.2% to 4.360M, up 8.7% y/y. (These data have a longer history than the total sales series.) Sales of condos and co-ops rose 8.8% m/m to 0.620, up 21.6% y/y and were at the highest level since 2007.

The median price of an existing home rose 1.8% (11.6% y/y) to $173,600. In the Northeast, the median sales price of $238,800 was up 7.6% y/y. In the West, the median price rose 22.7% y/y to $237,700. In the South, the price of $150,500 was up 9.3% y/y and in the Midwest the price rose 7.7% y/y to $129,000.

The supply of homes on the market ticked up slightly from its seven-year low to 4.7 months. The months' supply of single-family homes on the market also rose to a low 4.7 months and for condos & coops it was 4.9 months. The total number of homes on the market rose 9.6% m/m but still was off 19.2% y/y. Inventories of single-family homes fell the same 19.2% y/y while inventories of multi-family homes were off 19.3% y/y.

Reported earlier this month, the composite index of home price affordability slipped 0.5% y/y. Mortgage payments as a percent of income m/m were a low 12.1% versus the high of roughly 25.0% in 2006. The average monthly mortgage rate was 3.47%.

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) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total 4,980 4,940 4,900 10.2 4,661 4,278 4,183
Northeast 630 650 620 8.6 596 543 563
Midwest 1,140 1,160 1,120 12.9 1,067 918 909
South 2,010 1,960 1,940 14.9 1,833 1,683 1,626
West 1,200 1,170 1,220 1.7 1,165 1,133 1,084
Single-Family Sales 4,360 4,370 4,330 8.7 4,130 3,793 3,705
Median Price, Total, ($, NSA) 173,600 170,600 180,200 11.6 175,442 164,542 172,442
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