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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales & Prices Decline
by Tom Moeller  February 21, 2020

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes during January fell 1.3% (+9.6 y/y) to 5.460 million (SAAR) from 5.530 million in December, revised from 5.540 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected January sales of 5.45 million.

The median price of all existing homes sold declined 3.0% (+6.8% y/y) to $266,300, the lowest price since March of last year. The average sales price fell 3.0% last month (+6.9% y/y) to $268,600. These price data are not seasonally adjusted.

Existing home sales were mixed around the country in January. The decline in sales overall was concentrated in the West as they fell 9.4% (+8.2% y/y) to 1.060 million. That reversed a 6.4% December gain. In the Northeast, an unchanged 730,000 (7.4% y/y) followed two months of moderate increase. In the Midwest, sales gained 2.4% (8.4% y/y) to 1.290 million following a 1.6% decline. In the South, sales improved 0.4% (11.7% y/y) to 2.380 million after rising 5.8% in December.

Sales of existing single-family homes fell 1.2% (+9.7% y/y) to 4.850 million units after rising 3.2% in December. Sales of condos and co-ops weakened 1.6% (+8.9% y/y) to 610,000 units.

The number of homes on the market declined in January by 10.7% y/y to nearly a record low. The months' supply of homes on the market fell to 3.1 from 3.8 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.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total Sales 5,460 5,530 5,320 9.6 5,330 5,341 5,531
   Northeast 730 730 700 7.4 687 689 735
   Midwest 1,290 1,260 1,280 8.4 1,248 1,265 1,301
   South 2,380 2,370 2,240 11.7 2,281 2,246 2,270
   West 1,060 1,170 1,100 8.2 1,115 1,141 1,225
Single-Family Sales 4,850 4,910 4,760 9.7 4,754 4,742 4,907
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 266,300 274,500 271,300 6.8 269,783 257,267 245,950
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