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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Fall for the Seventh Straight Month in August
by Winnie Tapasanun  September 21, 2022

• 4.800 mil. in August, lowest since May '20; 4.820 mil. in July (revised up from 4.810 mil.).

• Existing single-family home sales drop for the seventh consecutive month while condo & co-op sales rebound following six straight m/m declines.

• Regional sales patterns are mixed: sales in the Midwest fall for the fourth successive month; sales in the South hold steady; sales in the Northeast and the West rebound.

• Median price falls for the second consecutive month to the lowest level since March; broad-based regional price declines: prices in the South and the West fall for the third straight month while prices in the Northeast and the Midwest fall for the second successive month.

Weakness in the U.S. housing market is evident as sales and prices continued falling last month. Existing home sales fell 0.4% m/m (-19.9% y/y) to 4.800 million units (SAAR) in August after drops of 5.7% to 4.820 million in July (4.810 million initially) and 5.5% to 5.110 million in June, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The August reading was the seventh consecutive monthly fall and the eighth in nine months to the lowest level since May 2020. Sales reached a peak of 6.650 million in January 2021, down 27.8% since then. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected August sales of 4.69 million units.

Existing single-family home sales slid 0.9% (-19.2% y/y) to 4.280 million units in August after a 5.3% drop to 4.320 million in July. That was the seventh straight m/m slide to the lowest level since May 2020. In contrast, sales of condos and co-ops rebounded 4.0% (-24.6% y/y) to 520,000, the first m/m gain since January, after a 9.1% July decrease to 500,000.

Sales patterns were mixed in August. Sales in the Midwest fell 3.3% (-15.9% y/y) to 1.160 million, the fourth successive m/m fall to the lowest level since June 2020, on top of a 2.4% July decline to 1.200 million. Sales in the South were unchanged (-19.3% y/y) at 2.130 million after a 5.3% July drop. To the upside, sales in the Northeast rebounded 1.6% (-13.7% y/y) to 630,000 following a 7.5% July decrease to 620,000. Sales in the West grew 1.1% (-29.0% y/y) to 880,000 after a 9.4% July decrease to 870,000, registering the first m/m gain since January's 4.1% increase.

The median price of an existing home fell 2.4% (+7.7% y/y) to $389,500 in August, the lowest level since March, after a 3.5% decline to $399,200 in July. Prices fell in all the regions in August. Prices in the Northeast worsened 6.9% (+1.5% y/y) to $413,200, the lowest level since April, after a 2.0% July drop to $444,000. In the Midwest, prices fell 1.9% (+6.6% y/y) to $287,900, also the lowest level since April, after a 3.9% July decrease to $293,600. In the West, prices slid 1.2% (+7.1% y/y) to $602,900, the third straight m/m slide to the lowest level since February, after a 2.7% July drop to $610,300. Prices in the South fell 1.1% (+12.4% y/y) to $356,000, the third consecutive m/m fall to the lowest level since March, after a 2.9% July decline to $360,000. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

The number of existing homes on the market fell 1.5% (NSA) to 1.280 million units in August, the first m/m fall since January, after a 4.0% increase to 1.300 million in July. It was unchanged y/y following July's 0.8% y/y decrease. The supply of homes on the market held steady at 3.2 months. That was above a low of 1.6 months in January and a reading of 2.6 months last August. 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.

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