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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Increase in October--the First in Seven Months
by Sandy Batten  November 21, 2018

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes in October increased 1.4% m/m to 5.220 million units (SAAR) but were down 5.1% from a year earlier. The September figure was not revised. This was the first monthly increase in sales in the past seven months. In September, sales had fallen to their lowest level since November 2015. In the Action Economics Forecast Survey, expectations had been for sales of 5.20 million units.

The median price of all existing homes sold fell further in October, declining 0.6% m/m to $255,400 for the fourth consecutive monthly decline. Prices hit a record $273,800 in June and despite the recent declines are still 3.8% higher than a year ago. The average sales price fell 0.6% m/m (+2.3% y/y) to $294,200.

Home sales in October rose in three of the four major regions. Sales in the Northeast rose 1.5% m/m (-6.8% y/y) to 690,000 units. Sales rose 1.9% m/m (-2.3% y/y) to 2.15 million units in the South and jumped 2.8% m/m (-11.2% y/y) to 1.11 million units in the West. In contrast, sales in the Midwest slipped 0.8% m/m (-3.1% y/y) to 1.27 million units.

Sales of existing single-family homes also rose in October, up 0.9% m/m (-5.3% y/y) to 4.62 million units. Sales of condos and co-ops jumped 5.3% m/m (-3.2% y/y) to 600,000 units.

The number of homes on the market fell for the fourth consecutive month, declining 1.6% m/m (NSA) in October but was 2.8% higher than a year ago. The supply of homes on the market edged down 0.1 month to 4.3 months. It has been relatively stable for the past five months and is up from the record low of 3.2 months in December 2017.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability are compiled by the National Association of Realtors and 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) Oct Sep Aug Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 5,220 5,150 5,330 -5.1 5,536 5,441 5,228
   Northeast 690 680 700 -6.8 737 735 684
   Midwest 1,270 1,280 1,280 -3.1 1,304 1,298 1,231
   South 2,150 2,110 2,230 -2.3 2,270 2,217 2,147
   West 1,110 1,080 1,120 -11.2 1,225 1,192 1,167
Single-Family 4,620 4,580 4,740 -5.3 4,910 4,825 4,623
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 255,400 256,900 265,600 3.8 245,950 232,067 219,867
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