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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Increase
by Tom Moeller  December 19, 2018

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes in November rose 1.9% to 5.320 million units (SAAR). The 7.0% y/y decline was, however, the largest since May 2011. The latest increase followed an unrevised 1.4% gain during October. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected sales of 5.20 million units.

The median price of all existing homes sold improved 1.0% (4.2% y/y) last month to $257,700 following four straight months of decline. Prices hit a record $273,800 in June but are 4.2% higher during the last twelve months. The average sales price improved 1.1% (5.0% y/y) to $260,500.

The rise in November home sales spread through most of the country. Sales in the Northeast strengthened 7.2% (-2.6% y/y) to 740,000 units, the highest level since December. Sales in the Midwest gained 5.5% (-4.3% y/y) to 1.34 million units, the highest level in twelve months. In the South, sales improved 2.3% (-5.6% y/y) to 2.22 million units. Wildfires may be responsible for the 6.3% decline in sales in the West (-15.4% y/y) to 1.04 million units. Sales were 18.1% below the recent peak during February of this year.

Sales of existing single-family homes also rose 1.9% (-6.7% y/y) to 4.71 million units. Sales sof condos and co-ops improved 1.7% (-9.0% y/y) to 610,000 units, the highest level in five months.

The number of homes on the market fell for the fifth consecutive month, but remained up 4.2% y/y. The months' supply of homes on the market declined to 3.9, the least since March.

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) Nov Oct Sep Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 5,320 5,220 5,150 -7.0 5,536 5,441 5,228
   Northeast 740 690 680 -2.6 737 735 684
   Midwest 1,340 1,270 1,280 -4.3 1,304 1,298 1,231
   South 2,200 2,150 2,110 -5.6 2,270 2,217 2,147
   West 1,040 1,110 1,080 -15.4 1,225 1,192 1,167
Single-Family 4,710 4,620 4,580 -6.7 4,910 4,825 4,623
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 257,700 255,100 256,900 4.2 245,950 232,067 219,867
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