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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fall to Five-Month Low; Inventory Remains Tight
by Tom Moeller  March 22, 2017

Sales of existing single-family homes declined 3.7% (+5.4% y/y) to 5.480 million units (AR) during February, and reversed January's increase. Expectations had been for 5.590 million purchases in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Sales of existing single-family homes fell 3.0% last month (+5.8% y/y) to 4.890 million units, and also reversed the January rise. Sales of condos & co-ops fell 9.2% (+1.7% y/y) to 590,000 following an 8.3% increase. The figures are reported by the National Association of Realtors.

The number of homes on the market declined 6.4% y/y to 1.750 million. The months' sales supply of homes improved slightly m/m to 3.8, but remained near the lowest level since January 2005.

The median price of all previously owned homes nudged 0.5% higher (7.7% y/y) to $228,400. The rise followed declines in six of the prior seven months from a June peak of $247,600. The average price of an existing home eased 0.2% to $270,100 (+5.8% y/y).

Sales performance was mixed around the country last month. Home sales in the Northeast declined 13.7% (+1.5% y/y) to 690,000, the lowest level since July. Sales in the Midwest were off 7.0% (+2.6% y/y) to 1.200 million, the lowest level in twelve months. Sales in the West fell 3.1% (+9.6% y/y) to 1.250 million following a 6.6% rise. In the South, sales improved 1.3% (5.9% y/y) to 2.340 million, the highest level since December 2006.

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 Forecast Survey, reported in the AS1REPNA database.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 5,480 5,690 5,510 5.4 5,452 5,254 4,935
   Northeast 690 800 760 1.5 733 691 645
   Midwest 1,200 1,290 1,310 2.6 1,304 1,240 1,136
   South 2,340 2,310 2,230 5.9 2,218 2,151 2,051
   West 1,250 1,290 1,210 9.6 1,197 1,172 1,103
Single-Family 4,890 5,040 4,910 5.8 4,838 4,646 4,344
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 228,400 227,300 233,300 7.7 232,067 219,867 206,708
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