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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales & Prices Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  January 22, 2020

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes during December increased 3.6% (10.8% y/y) to 5.540 million (SAAR) after falling to an unrevised 5.350 million in November. During all of 2019, existing home sales held steady y/y at 5.341 million units. That was below the 2017 peak of 5.531 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected December sales of 5.43 million. The home sales figure date back to 1999.

The median price of all existing homes sold increased 1.2% (7.8% y/y) to $274,500. The average sales price rose 1.0% (5.9% y/y) last month to $311,200. These price data are not seasonally adjusted.

Existing home sales were mixed around the country in December. In the South, sales rose 5.4% (12.4 y/y) to a near-record 2.360 million after falling 3.9% in November. Sales in the Northeast gained 5.7% (8.8% y/y) to 740,000 and added to the prior month's increase. In the West, sales rose 4.6% (10.7% y/y) 1.140 million following four straight months of decline. To the downside, home sales in the Midwest declined 1.5% (+9.2% y/y) to 1.300 million after two months of strong increase.

Sales of existing single-family homes increased 2.7% (10.6% y/y) to 4.920 million units after falling 1.2% in November. Sales of condos and co-ops surged 10.7% (12.7% y/y) to 620,000 units, the highest level since June 2018.

The number of homes on the market declined 8.5% y/y during December to a record low. The months' supply of homes on the market also decreased m/m to a record low 3.0 from 3.7 twelve months earlier. These inventory figures date back to 1999.

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.

Do Monetary Policy Announcements Shift Household Expectations? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas can be found here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total Sales 5,540 5,350 5,440 10.8 5,341 5,341 5,531
   Northeast 740 700 690 8.8 687 689 735
   Midwest 1,300 1,320 1,290 9.2 1,252 1,265 1,301
   South 2,360 2,240 2,330 12.4 2,285 2,246 2,270
   West 1,140 1,090 1,130 10.7 1,118 1,141 1,225
Single-Family Sales 4,920 4,790 4,850 10.6 4,760 4,742 4,907
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 274,500 271,300 271,000 7.8 269,758 257,267 245,950
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