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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales & Prices Strengthen in August
by Tom Moeller  September 22, 2020

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

• Sales strength continued to reflect gains across the nation.

• Pricing power increased.

The housing  market remains on a firm footing. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes increased 2.4% (10.5% y/y) during August to 6.000 million units (AR). It was the highest level of sales in fourteen years. The rise came after a 24.7% strengthening in July to 5.860 million and 20.2% to 4.700 million in June. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected August sales of 6.06 million. Existing home sales data are compiled when sales close.

Sales of existing single-family homes improved 1.7% (11.0% y/y) to 5.370 million units following two months of strong gain. Sales of condos and co-ops rose 8.6% (6.8% y/y) to 630,000 units. It was the third straight month of strong increase and left sales at the highest level since January 2018.

The median price of an existing home increased 1.7% (11.4% y/y) to a record $310,600 after a 3.7% July rise. The mean sales price improved 1.3% last month (8.8% y/y) to $342,500. The median home price in the Northeast strengthened 5.0% (10.4% y/y) to $349,500. In the Midwest, prices rose 1.1% (10.7% y/y) to $246,300. The median home price in the South improved 0.9% (12.3% y/y) to $269,200 while prices in the West also improved 0.9% (11.8% y/y) to $456,100. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

Sales in all four regions of the country strengthened last month. In the Northeast, sales surged 13.8% (5.7% y/y) to 740,000 after rising by one-third in July. Sales in the Midwest rose 1.4% (9.3% y/y) to 1.410 million units, the highest level since December 2006. In the West, sales edged 0.8% higher (9.6% y/y) to 1.250 million after two months of strong increase. Sales in the South improved 0.8% during August (13.0% y/y) to 2.600 million units after two months of strong improvement.

The number of homes on the market declined 18.6% y/y. The months' supply of homes on the market fell to 3.0, matching the record low.

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.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act is the title of today's testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell. It is available here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total Sales 6,000 5,860 4,700 10.5 5,330 5,334 5,527
   Northeast 740 650 490 5.7 687 687 736
   Midwest 1,410 1,390 1,090 9.3 1,248 1,264 1,302
   South 2,600 2,580 2,170 13.0 2,281 2,245 2,268
   West 1,250 1,240 950 9.6 1,115 1,138 1,222
Single-Family Sales 5,370 5,280 4,260 11.0 4,754 4,737 4,904
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 310,600 305,500 294,500 11.4 269,783 257,267 245,950
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