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Economy in Brief

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

• Existing home sales rise to highest level since May 2006.  

• Supply of unsold homes reaches record low, lifting prices.

• Sales strengthened across the country.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes increased 9.4% (20.9% y/y) in September to 6.540 million units (AR). It was the highest level of sales since May 2006. The rise came after a 2.0% August gain to 5.980 million units, revised from 6.000 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected September sales of 6.20 million. Existing home sales data are compiled when sales close.

The number of homes on the market declined 19.2% y/y. The months' supply of homes on the market fell to 2.7, matching a record low.

Strong demand coupled with tight supply raised the median price of an existing home 0.5% (14.8% y/y) to a record $311,800, the fourth successive month of strong increase. The mean sales price improved 0.3% last month (11.6% y/y) to $343,300. The median home price in the Northeast strengthened 1.5% (17.8% y/y) to $354,600. In the Midwest, prices eased 1.3% (+14.8% y/y) to $243,100. The median home price in the South was off 0.6% (+13.0% y/y) to $266,900 while prices in the West improved 3.2% (17.1% y/y) to $470,800. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

Sales of existing single-family homes improved 9.7% (21.8% y/y) to 5.870 million units, the fourth consecutive month of increase. Sales of condos and co-ops rose 6.3% (13.6% y/y) to 670,000 units. It was the fourth straight month of strong increase and left sales at the highest level since May 2007.

Sales in all four regions of the country strengthened last month. In the Northeast, sales surged 16.2% (22.9% y/y) to 860,000 after rising 13.8% August. Sales in the Midwest rose 7.1% (19.8% y/y) to 1.510 million units, the highest level since April 2006. In the West, sales improved 9.6% (18.1% y/y) to 1.370 million after a 0.8% rise. Sales in the South improved 8.5% during September (22.3% y/y) to 2.800 million units following no change in August.

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.

Key Elements of the Fed's New Monetary Policy Strategy from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s)  Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total Sales 6,540 5,980 5,860 20.9 5,330 5,334 5,527
   Northeast 860 740 650 22.9 687 687 736
   Midwest 1,510 1,410 1,390 19.8 1,248 1,264 1,302
   South 2,800 2,580 2,580 22.3 2,281 2,245 2,268
   West 1,370 1,250 1,240 18.1 1,115 1,138 1,222
Single-Family Sales 5,870 5,350 5,280 21.8 4,754 4,737 4,904
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 311,800 310,400 305,500 14.8 269,783 257,267 245,950
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