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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Remain Under Pressure
by Tom Moeller  March 23, 2015

Sales of existing homes improved 1.2% during February to 4.880 million (AR, 4.7% y/y), following an unrevised 4.9% January decline. Home sales remained down 5.4% from October and slightly missed consensus expectations for 4.92 million in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Single-family home sales gained 1.4% last month (5.9% y/y) to 4.340 million after a 4.9% shortfall. Condo and co-op sales remained unchanged (-3.6% y/y) at 0.540 million, the lowest level since July 2012.

The median sales price of an existing home increased 2.5% (7.5% y/y) to $202,600 from $197,600, revised from $199,600. Prices remained 8.7% lower than the June peak. The average sales price improved 1.0% (5.0% y/y) to $248,400, down 7.3% from the June peak. The composite index of home affordability increased 2.3% y/y to the highest level since May 2013.

Severe winter weather likely reduced sales last month. By region, sales in the Northeast declined 6.5% (+3.6% y/y) to 580,000, the lowest level in twelve months. Sales in the Midwest were unchanged (+4.9% y/y) at 1.080 million, down 10.7% from the high six months ago. Sales in the South improved 1.9% (6.0% y/y) to 2.110 million but remained slightly below their October peak. Sales in the West gained 5.7% (2.8% y/y) to 111,000, but have moved sideways for six months.

The inventory of unsold homes slipped 0.5% y/y. The months' supply of homes on the market remained unchanged at 4.6, down from 5.6 months in August and near the low for the economic expansion.

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) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 4,880 4,820 5,070 4.7 4,920 5,074 4,657
   Northeast 580 620 670 3.6 640 658 597
   Midwest 1,080 1,080 1,110 4.9 1,131 1,194 1,063
   South 2,110 2,070 2,170 6.0 2,048 2,032 1,834
   West 1,110 1,050 1,120 2.8 1,102 1,190 1,163
Single-Family Sales 4,340 4,280 4,500 5.9 4,334 4,473 4,125
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 202,600 197,600 208,200 7.5 206,708 195,667 175,433
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