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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fell in August
by Sandy Batten  September 22, 2021

• Sales fell for first time in three months.

• August decline widespread across all major regions.

• Inventory of unsold homes fell 1.5%, 2.6 months at the current sales pace.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes fell 2.0% m/m (-1.5% y/y) in August to 5.880 million units at an annual rate. The 5.990 million sales pace initially reported for July was revised up to 6.000 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected sales of 5.870 million units in August. These data are compiled when existing home sales close.

Sales fell in each major region in August. Sales in the Northeast declined 1.4% m/m (-2.7% y/y) to 730,000 units. Midwest sales also fell 1.4% m/m (-2.1% y/y) in August to 1.370 million units, the first monthly decline in five months. Sales in the South decreased 3.0% m/m (-0.8% y/y) to 2.550 million units. And sales in the West slipped 0.8% m/m (-1.6% y/y) to 1.230 million units.

The median price of an existing home edged down 0.8% m/m (+14.9% y/y) to $356,700 in August with the median sales price declining in each of the four major regions. This was the second consecutive monthly decline for the national figure. The monthly decline was largest in the Northeast (-0.83% m/m, +16.8% y/y)) and smallest in the West (-0.08%, +11.4% y/y)). The price data are not seasonally adjusted

The supply of houses for sale continued to be a restraint on sales. The number of existing homes on the market fell 1.5% m/m (NSA) in August to 1.290 million units and was 13.4% lower than a year ago. These figures date back to January 1999. The supply of homes on the market held at 2.6 months of the current sales pace, but remained well below its recent high of 4.6 months in May of last year and was marginally above it all-time low of 1.9 months reached last December.

Sales of existing single-family homes fell 1.9% m/m (-2.8% y/y) in August to 5.190 million units (SAAR) after rising 2.9% m/m in July. Sales of condos and co-ops fell 2.8% (+9.5% y/y) to 690,000.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability are compiled by the National Association of Realtors. The data extend 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) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total Sales 5,880 6,000 5,870 -1.5 5,658 5,327 5,334
   Northeast 730 740 740 -2.7 705 684 686
   Midwest 1,370 1,390 1,330 -2.1 1,339 1,246 1,262
   South 2,550 2,630 2,600 -0.8 2,458 2,282 2,246
   West 1,230 1,240 1,200 -1.6 1,156 1,115 1,141
 Single-Family Sales 5,190 5,290 5,140 -2.8 5,076 4,749 4,736
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 356,700 359,500 362,800 14.9 295,217 269,783 257,267
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