Friday, February 26, 2010

Existing Home Sales Decline Sharply in January

by Bill McBride on 2/26/2010 10:00:00 AM

The NAR reports: Existing-Home Sales Down in January

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – dropped 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.05 million units in January from a revised 5.44 million in December, but remain 11.5 percent above the 4.53 million-unit level in January 2009.

Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 0.5 percent to 3.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 7.2-month supply in December.
Existing Home Sales Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows existing home sales, on a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) basis since 1993.

Sales in Jan 2010 (5.05 million SAAR) were 7.2% lower than last month, and were 11.5% higher than Jan 2009 (4.53 million SAAR).

This is a sharp drop from November when many of the transactions were due to first-time homebuyers rushing to beat the initial expiration of the tax credit (that has been extended). That pushed sales far above the historical normal level; based on normal turnover, existing home sales would be in the 4.5 to 5.0 million SAAR range.

Existing Home Inventory The second graph shows nationwide inventory for existing homes. According to the NAR, inventory decreased to 3.27 million in January from 3.29 million in December. The all time record high was 4.57 million homes for sale in July 2008.

This is not seasonally adjusted and this decline is mostly seasonal - inventory should increase in the Spring.

Existing Home Sales Months of SupplyThe third graph shows the 'months of supply' metric.

Months of supply increased to 7.8 months in January.

A normal market has under 6 months of supply, so this is high - and probably excludes some substantial shadow inventory.

I'll have more later ...

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