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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Improve Further As Prices Ease
by Tom Moeller  September 19, 2013

Sales of existing homes increased 1.7% during August (13.2% y/y) to 5.480 mil. units (AR), according to the National Association of Realtors. Earlier figures were unrevised and the latest was the highest since February 2007. Consensus expectations had been for a decline 5.260 million sales. Sales of existing single-family homes alone increased 1.7% to 4.840 million (12.8% y/y). These data have a longer history than the total sales series. Sales of condos and co-ops gained 1.6% to 0.640 mil. (16.4% y/y).

The median price of an existing home slipped to $212,100 but remained up 14.7% y/y. It remained near the highest price reading since June 2008. The peak was $230,300 in July 2006.

Sales performance was mixed during August. The greatest m/m gain was logged in the South with a 3.8% increase (13.5% y/y). Next was the Midwest which posted a 3.1% sales rise (18.9% y/y. In the Northeast sales were flat m/m (12.7% y/y) while sales in the West fell 2.3% (+7.7% y/y).

The supply of homes on the market slipped to 4.9 months of sales and remained down from a high of 11.9 months in July of 2010. The actual number of homes on the market fell 6.3% y/y last month. That added to a 21.1% decline during all of last year and a 23.2% drop in 2011.

Reported earlier this month, the July composite index of home price affordability declined 5.1% (-14.0% y/y) to its lowest level since July 2009. The decline was due a rise in the average mortgage rate to 4.13%, up from the 3.43% December low.

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 from the Action Economics survey, reported in the AS1REPNA database.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Aug Jul Jun Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Total 5,480 5,390 5,060 13.2 4,661 4,278 4,183
Northeast 710 710 630 12.7 596 543 563
Midwest 1,320 1,280 1,210 18.9 1067 918 909
South 2,190 2,110 2,010 13.5 1,833 1,683 1,626
West 1,260 1,290 1,210 7.7 1,165 1,133 1,084
Single-Family Sales 4,840 4,760 4,480 12.8 4,130 3,793 3,705
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 212,100 212,400 214,000 14.7 175,442 164,542 172,442
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