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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Surge As Prices Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  August 21, 2020

• Existing home sales rose last month to highest level since December 2006.

• Sales strength was broad-based across the nation.

• Pricing power picked up.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes jumped 24.7% (8.7% y/y) during July to 5.860 million units (AR) after rising 20.2% to 4.700 million in June, revised from 4.720 million. It was the highest level of sales since December 2006. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected July sales of 5.40 million. Existing home sales data are compiled when sales close. The total includes single-family houses plus condos and co-ops.

Sales of existing single-family homes jumped 23.9% (9.8% y/y) to 5.280 million units following a 19.3% June gain. The series dates back to January 1968. Sales of condos and co-ops strengthened 31.8% (0.0% y/y) to 580,000 units, rebounding 70.6% during the last two months to the highest level since February.

The median price of an existing home increased 3.3% (8.5% y/y) to a record $304,100 after a 3.8% June rise. The mean sales price improved 2.6% last month (6.5% y/y) to $337,500. The median home price in the Northeast eased 5.0% (+4.0% y/y) to $317,800. In the Midwest, prices rose 4.0% (8.0% y/y) to $244,500. The median home price in the South strengthened 4.6% (9.9% y/y) to $268,500 while prices in the West improved 5.2% (11.3% y/y) to $453,800. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

Sales in all four regions of the country strengthened last month. In the West, sales increased 30.5% (7.8% y/y) to 1.240 million, about as they did in June. Sales in the South improved 19.4% during July (12.6% y/y) to 2.590 million units after a 25.4% June rebound which followed three straight months of decline. In the Northeast, sales surged 30.6% (-5.9% y/y) to 640,000 after a modest 4.3% June rise. Sales surged 27.5% (10.3% y/y) in the Midwest to 1.390 million units, the highest level since December 2006.

The number of homes on the market declined 21.1% y/y. The months' supply of homes on the market fell sharply to 3.1, roughly matching the record low of 3.0 months in February.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability are compiled by the National Association of Realtors. The data trace back to February 1968. 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) Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total Sales 5,860 4,700 3,910 8.7 5,330 5,334 5,527
   Northeast 640 490 470 -5.9 687 687 736
   Midwest 1,390 1,090 990 10.3 1,248 1,264 1,302
   South 2,590 2,170 1,730 12.6 2,281 2,245 2,268
   West 1,240 950 720 7.8 1,115 1,138 1,222
Single-Family Sales 5,280 4,260 3,570 9.8 4,754 4,737 4,904
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 304,100 294,500 283,600 8.5 269,783 257,267 245,950
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