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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise Unexpectedly in October
by Tom Moeller  November 22, 2021

• Sales increase to nine-month high.

• Changes are mixed amongst regions.

• Prices firm.

Strength in job growth and low interest rates continue to lift housing market activity. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes improved 0.8% (-5.8% y/y) in October to 6.340 million units (SAAR) following an unrevised 7.0% September gain to 6.290 million. October sales stood at the highest level since January of this year, up 9.7% since a May low. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a decline in sales to 6.20 million units in October. These data are compiled when existing home sales close.

Existing single-family home sales increased 1.3% (-5.8% y/y) in October to 5.660 million units after rising 7.7% in September. Sales of condos and co-ops declined 2.9% (-5.6% y/y) to 680,000 after increasing 1.4% in September.

Sales patterns varied across the country last month. In the Northeast, sales fell 2.6% (-13.8% y/y) to 750,000 units following a 5.5% September increase. Sales in the Midwest offset that decline and rose 4.2% (-6.3% y/y) to 1.500 million, the fourth firm gain in five months. Sales in the South improved 0.4% (-3.5% y/y) to 2.780 million units after an 8.6% September rise. Sales in the West held steady (-5.1% y/y) at 1.310 million units after rising 6.5% September.

The median price of an existing home rose 0.8% (13.1% y/y) to $353,900 in October. Prices in the Northeast fell 2.1% (+6.4% y/y) to $379,100 and in the Midwest they eased 1.3% (+7.8% y/y) to $259,800. In the South, home prices strengthened 3.3% (16.1% y/y) to $315,500 and in the West prices edged 0.2% higher (7.7% y/y) to $507,200. The price data are not seasonally adjusted

The number of existing homes on the market fell 0.8% (NSA) in October to 1.250 million units (-12.0% y/y). The supply of homes on the market held at 2.4 months, remaining well below the high of 4.6 months in May of last year and  above the all-time low of 1.9 months reached last December. These figures date back to January 1999.

The data on existing home sales, prices and affordability are compiled by the National Association of Realtors. The data on single-family home sales 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.

Economic Outlook from Fed Governor Christopher J. Waller can be found can be found here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total Sales 6,340 6,290 5,880 -5.8 5,658 5,327 5,334
   Northeast 750 770 730 -13.8 705 684 686
   Midwest 1,500 1,440 1,370 -6.3 1,339 1,246 1,262
   South 2,780 2,770 2,550 -3.5 2,458 2,282 2,246
   West 1,310 1,310 1,230 -5.1 1,156 1,115 1,141
 Single-Family Sales 5,660 5,590 5,190 -5.8 5,076 4,749 4,736
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 353,900 351,200 357,700 13.1 295,217 269,783 257,267
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