December Existing-Home Sale Worse Than Expected


“Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – fell 16.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.45 million units in December from 6.54 million in November, but remain 15.0 percent above the 4.74 million-unit level in December 2008.

For all of 2009 there were 5,156,000 existing-home sales, which was 4.9 percent higher than the 4,913,000 transactions recorded in 2008; it was the first annual sales gain since 2005.”

Don’t read too much into the increase in price — the big drop off in first time buyers likely skewed the purchases away from smaller, cheaper, starter homes.

Looking more closely at the data, a few interesting factors jump out:

• While the monthly data was horrific — down 16.7% — the more important year-over-year numbers were a solid +15%;

• On a percentage basis, the 16.7% monthly decline was the largest on record, dating back to 1968;

• Single-family home sales fell 16.8% (SAAR 4.79 million) and are 12.7% above the 4.25 million level in December 2008.

• For all of 2009, single-family sales rose 5.0% to 4,566,000.

• First-time buyers purchased 43% of homes, down from 51% in November, according to a NAR survey.

• Median existing-home price for all housing types was $178,300 in December 2009 — a gain of 1.5% higher vs December 2008.

• Total housing inventory at the end of the year was down 6.6% to 3.29 million existing homes for sale — a 7.2-month supply;

• Raw inventory is 11.1% a year ago, the lowest level since March 2006;

More data coming later this week . . .



Here is my favorite Housing graph, the NonSeasonally Adjusted Chart for Existing Home Sales

Courtesy of Calculated Risk


December Existing-Home Sales Down but Prices Rise; 2009 Sales Up
NAR, January 25, 2010

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