Thursday, April 23, 2009

Existing Home Sales Decline in March

by Calculated Risk on 4/23/2009 10:00:00 AM

The NAR reports: March Existing-Home Sales Slip but First-Time Buyers Rise

Existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – declined 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units in March from a downwardly revised level of 4.71 million in February, and were 7.1 percent lower than the 4.92 million-unit pace in March 2008.
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Total housing inventory at the end of March fell 1.6 percent to 3.74 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.8-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with a 9.7-month supply in February.
Existing Home Sales Click on graph for larger image in new window.

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

Sales in March 2009 (4.57 million SAAR) were 3.0% lower than last month, and were 7.1% lower than March 2008 (4.92 million SAAR).

It's important to note that about 45% of these sales were foreclosure resales or short sales. Although these are real transactions, this means activity (ex-distressed sales) is under 3 million units SAAR.

Existing Home Inventory The second graph shows nationwide inventory for existing homes. According to the NAR, inventory decreased to 3.74 million in March. The all time record was 4.57 million homes for sale in July 2008. This is not seasonally adjusted.

Typically inventory increases slightly in March, and then really increases over the next few months of the year until peaking in the summer. This decrease in inventory was small, and the next few months will be key for inventory.

Also, most REOs (bank owned properties) are included in the inventory because they are listed - but not all. Recently there have been stories about a substantial number of unlisted REOs - this is possible, but not confirmed.

Existing Home Sales Months of SupplyThe third graph shows the 'months of supply' metric for the last six years.

Months of supply was up slightly at 9.8 months.

Even though the inventory level decreased, sales also decreased, so "months of supply" increased slightly.

I'll have more on existing home sales soon ...