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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Continue to Fall in May
by Tom Moeller  June 22, 2020

• Existing home sales hit lowest since October 2010.

• Sales fall across the nation.

• Prices decline modestly.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes dropped 9.7% (-26.6% y/y) during May to 3.910 million (AR) from an unrevised 4.330 million in April. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected April sales of 3.90 million. Existing home sales data are compiled when sales close; the total includes single-family houses plus condos and co-ops.

The median price of an existing home eased 0.7% (+2.3% y/y) to $284,600 after a 2.1% April improvement. The mean sales price slipped 0.6% last month (+1.5% y/y) to $319,300. The median home price in the Northeast rose 4.9% (7.8% y/y) to $327,900. In the Midwest prices slipped 0.4% (+3.0% y/y) to $227,400. The median home price in the South declined 1.0% (+2.1% y/y) to $247,400 while prices in the West were off 2.3% (-0.2% y/y) to $408,400. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

All four regions of the country experienced declines in sales. In the West, sales declined 11.1% (-35.1% y/y) to a record low of 720,000.Sales in the South fell 8.0% (-25.1% y/y) in May to 1.730 million after a 17.9% April drop. In the Northeast, sales were off 13.0% (-29.9% y/y) to 470,000, the lowest level since July 2010. The Midwest experienced a 10.0% falloff (-20.2% y/y) in sales to 990,000 that followed a 12.0% decline in April.

Sales of existing single-family homes, which date back to 1968, declined 9.4% (-24.8% y/y) to 3.570 million units, the lowest since November 2010. Sales of condos and co-ops weakened 12.8% (-41.4% y/y) to 340,000 units, down 45.2% during the last five months.

The number of homes on the market declined 18.8% y/y. The months' supply of homes on the market rose sharply to 4.8 from 4.0 in April. It was the largest backlog since November 2015. All figures date back to 1999.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability are compiled by the National Association of Realtors. Total sales and price data and regional sales can be found in Haver's USECON database. Regional price and affordability data and national 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) May Apr Mar May Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total Sales 3,910 4,330 5,270 -26.6 5,330 5,341 5,531
   Northeast 470 540 650 -29.9 687 689 735
   Midwest 990 1,100 1,250 -20.2 1,248 1,265 1,301
   South 1,730 1,880 2,290 -25.1 2,281 2,246 2,270
   West 720 810 1,080 -35.1 1,115 1,141 1,225
Single-Family Sales 3,570 3,940 4,740 -24.8 4,754 4,742 4,907
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 284,600 286,700 280,700 2.3 269,783 257,267 245,950
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