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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales and Prices Move Lower
by Tom Moeller  October 21, 2013

Sales of existing homes declined 1.9% (+10.7% y/y) last month to 5.290 million (AR). The drop followed no-change during August revised from a 1.7% rise, according to the National Association of Realtors. Consensus expectations had been for 5.30 million sales. Sales of existing single-family homes alone fell 1.5% to 4.680 million (+10.9% 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 fell to $199,200. The decline was the third straight down month and left prices at the lowest level since April. The peak was $230,300 in July 2006.

Sales performance was mixed during September. The greatest m/m decline occurred in the Midwest with a 5.3% shortfall (+12.6% y/y). Next was the Northeast which posted a 2.8% sales drop (+15.0% y/y. In the South, sales fell 1.4% m/m (+9.9% y/y) but sales in the West improved 1.6% (7.8% y/y).

The supply of homes on the market was roughly unchanged at 5.0 months of sales, down from a high of 11.9 months in July of 2010. The actual number of homes on the market increased 1.8% y/y last month. That started to reverse a 21.1% decline during all of last year and a 23.2% drop in 2011.

Reported earlier this month, the August composite index of home price affordability declined 2.9% (-18.2% y/y) to its lowest level since November 2008. The decline was due a rise in the average mortgage rate to 4.41%, 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.

Lean, Clean, and In-Between is the title of Friday's speech by Federal Reserve Governor Jeremy C. Stein and it can be found here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y % 2012 2011 2010
Total 5,290 5,390 5,390 10.7 4,661 4,278 4,183
Northeast 690 710 710 15.0 596 543 563
Midwest 1,250 1,320 1,280 12.6 1067 918 909
South 2,100 2,130 2,110 9.9 1,833 1,683 1,626
West 1,250 1,230 1,290 7.8 1,165 1,133 1,084
Single-Family Sales 4,680 4,750 4,760 10.9 4,130 3,793 3,705
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 199,200 209,700 212,400 11.7 175,442 164,542 172,442
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