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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fall as Prices Increase in March
by Tom Moeller  April 20, 2022

• Sales decline is third in last four months.

• Declines are spread through most of country.

• Median price hits record level.

Existing home sales declined 2.7% (-4.5% y/y) during March to 5.770 million (SAAR) from 5.930 million in February, revised from 6.020 million. It was the lowest level of sales since June 2020 according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected sales of 5.80 million units in March. These data are compiled when existing home sales close.

The fall in existing home sales included a 2.7% decline (-3.8% y/y) in single-family home sales to 5.130 million, a 21-month low, from 5.270 million in February. Sales of condos and co-ops weakened 3.0% (-9.9% y/y) to 640,000, the lowest level since August 2020.

Sales declined in most of the country last month. Sales in the Midwest were off 4.5% (-3.1% y/y) to 1.270 million. In the South, sales fell 3.0% both m/m and y/y in March to 2.620 million. Existing home sales in the Northeast fell 2.9% (-11.8% y/y) to 670,000. Sales in the West held steady (-4.7% y/y) at 1.210 million.

The number of existing homes on the market rose 11.8% (-9.5% y/y) to 950,000 (NSA). The supply of homes on the market improved to 2.0 months in March from 1.7 months in February. It was the highest level in four months but remained well below the high of 4.6 months in May 2020. These figures date back to January 1999.

The median price of an existing home increased 4.5% (15.0% y/y) to a record $375,300 last month. In the West, prices gained 1.4% last month (5.4% y/y) to $519,900. In March, home prices in the Northeast rose 1.7% (6.8% y/y) to $390,200. Prices in the South rose 4.5% in March (21.2% y/y) to $339,000. In the Midwest, prices surged 9.0% last month (10.4% y/y) to $271,000. The average price of an existing home rose 3.4% (9.6% y/y) to $387,100 in March. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

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.

The Fed's latest Beige Book covering regional economic conditions can be found here.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Total Sales 5,770 5,930 6,490 -4.5 6,127 5,638 5,325
   Northeast 670 690 780 -11.8 758 704 684
   Midwest 1,270 1,330 1,500 -3.1 1,397 1,333 1,244
   South 2,620 2,700 2,940 -3.0 2,708 2,449 2,283
   West 1,210 1,210 1,270 -4.7 1,264 1,153 1,114
 Single-Family Sales 5,130 5,270 5,750 -3.8 5,418 5,059 4,746
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 375,300 359,300 350,000 15.0 343,700 295,217 269,783
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