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Economy in Brief

U.S. Existing Home Sales Slide in April; Supply Remains Tight
by Tom Moeller  May 21, 2021

• Existing home sales decline to lowest level in almost a year.

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

• Prices surge to record high.

Sales of existing  homes weakened during April for the third straight month. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes fell 2.7% (+33.9% y/y) to 5.850 million (SAAR) during April after declining 3.7% to 6.010 million in March and 6.3% to 6.240 million in February. These last two figures were unrevised. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected April sales of 6.05 million. Data are compiled when existing home sales close.

A tight supply of homes on the market eased up slightly last month as the number of homes on the market rose 10.5% (NSA) to 1.16 million last month. The number declined, however, by 20.5% 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 2.4 months but remained below a recent high of 4.6 months in May of last year.

Sales declined across most of the country last month. In the Northeast, sales were off 3.9% (+30.4% y/y) to 730,000 units, the lowest level in nine months. In the South, sales declined 3.7% (+39.0% y/y) to 2.600 million units, the third consecutive monthly decline. Existing home sales in the West weakened 3.1% (+53.8% y/y) to 1.230 million, the fourth decline in five months. Working 0.8% higher (13.2% y/y) were sales in the Midwest to 1.29 million following three straight monthly declines.

The median price of an existing home increased 4.7% (19.1% y/y) to a record $341,600. The median home price in the West rose 1.6% (19.9% y/y) to $501,200. In the Northeast, prices improved 4.5% (22.0% y/y) to $381,100. The median home price in the South rose 3.5% (15.8% y/y) to $289,000. In the Midwest, prices strengthened 5.7% (13.5% y/y) to $259,300. The average sales price of all existing homes rose 3.3% last month (13.6% y/y) to $364,800. The price data are not seasonally adjusted.

Sales of existing single-family homes weakened 3.2% (+28.9% y/y) to 5.130 million units, down for the fifth month in the last six. Sales of condos and co-ops improved 1.4% (84.6% y/y) for the second straight month to 720,000 units.

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.

Existing Home Sales (SAAR, 000s) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total Sales 5,850 6,010 6,240 33.9 5,658 5,327 5,334
   Northeast 730 760 770 30.4 705 684 686
   Midwest 1,290 1,280 1,310 13.2 1,339 1,246 1,262
   South 2,600 2,700 2,780 39.0 2,458 2,282 2,246
   West 1,230 1,270 1,380 53.8 1,156 1,115 1,141
 Single-Family Sales 5,130 5,300 5,540 28.9 5,076 4,749 4,736
Median Price Total ($, NSA) 341,600 326,300 310,700 19.1 295,217 269,783 257,267
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