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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Ease in May but Prices Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  June 22, 2021

• Existing home sales decline for fourth straight month.

• Prices surge to another record high.

• Inventory of unsold homes again rose seasonally, but remains low.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes eased 0.9% (+44.6% y/y) to 5.800 million (SAAR) during May after declining 2.7% to an unrevised 5.850 million in April and 6.010 million in March. Sales have fallen 13.8% since their peak last October. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected May sales of 5.730 million. Data are compiled when existing home sales close.

The median price of an existing home increased 2.8% (23.6% y/y) to a record $350,300. The median home price in the West rose 0.9% (24.3% y/y) to $505,600. In the Northeast, prices improved 0.8% (17.1% y/y) to $384,300. The median home price in the South rose 3.9% (22.6% y/y) to $299,400. In the Midwest, prices strengthened 3.5% (18.1% y/y) to $268,500. The average sales price of all existing homes rose 2.1% last month (17.0% y/y) to $371,900. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

The number of existing homes on the market gained 7.0% (NSA) to 1.23 million last month. The number declined, however, 20.6% y/y and remained near the record low of 1.03 million units in January and February. (The figures date back to January 1999.) The months' supply of homes on the market rose slightly to 2.5 months but remained well below its recent high of 4.6 months in May of last year.

Sales declined across most of the country last month. Existing home sales in the West weakened 4.1% (+61.6% y/y) to 1.180 million, the fifth decline in six months. In the Northeast, sales fell 1.4% (+46.9% y/y) to 720,000 units. In the South, sales eased 0.4% (+47.2% y/y) to 2.590 million units, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. Working 1.6% higher (27.2% y/y) were sales in the Midwest to 1.310 million after rising 0.8% in April.

Sales of existing single-family homes fell 1.0% (+39.2% y/y) to 5.080 million units, down for the fifth straight month. Sales of condos and co-ops held steady at 720,000 units, but have doubled y/y.

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.

The Federal Reserve's Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic from Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell can be found here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) May Apr Mar May Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total Sales 5,800 5,850 6,010 44.6 5,658 5,327 5,334
   Northeast 720 730 760 46.9 705 684 686
   Midwest 1,310 1,290 1,280 27.2 1,339 1,246 1,262
   South 2,590 2,600 2,700 47.2 2,458 2,282 2,246
   West 1,180 1,230 1,270 61.6 1,156 1,115 1,141
 Single-Family Sales 5,080 5,130 5,300 39.2 5,076 4,749 4,736
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 350,300 340,600 326,300 23.6 295,217 269,783 257,267
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