As we noted earlier: As expected, year-over-year sales and prices continue to get punished. The monthly year-over-year existing home sales fell 19.3%, while the national median existing-home price was $200,700, down 7.7% from March 2007. Total housing inventory rose 1.0%, a 9.9-month supply.
February to March sales numbers were down 2.0% (seasonally adjusted) to an annual rate of 4.93 million units — far worse than we expected in our earlier discussion on seasonality. Note that the non-seasonally adjusted monthly data actually rose, to 374,000 sales.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, was much more circumspect than usual. He noted that buyers face more restrictive lending practices, and that potential buyers remain on the sidelines. Surprisingly, Yun also was cautious about additional Fed cuts, saying: "With elevated inflation, the Federal Reserve should be extra careful about further rate cuts."
I have one picayune disagreement with their data release: "Because the slowdown in sales from a year ago is greater in high-cost areas, there is a downward pull to the national median with relatively higher sales activity in low-cost markets."
We simply do not see that in the data. If the NAR were to break down sales in $100k increments (>$100k, $100-200, etc.) we would be able to track what sections of the housing market were doing better or worse.
Existing Home Sales, NonSeasonally Adjusted
Chart courtesy of Calculated Risk
Existing-Home Sales Slip in March
NAR, April 22, 2008