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NAR: Existing-Home Sales Decreased to 4.44 million SAAR in March; Median Prices Declined 0.9% YoY
From the NAR: Existing-Home Sales Slid 2.4% in March
Existing-home sales edged lower in March, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Month-over-month sales declined in three out of four major U.S. regions, while sales in the Northeast remained steady. All regions posted year-over-year decreases.
Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – fell 2.4% from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.44 million in March. Year-over-year, sales waned 22.0% (down from 5.69 million in March 2022).
Total housing inventory registered at the end of March was 980,000 units, up 1.0% from February and 5.4% from one year ago (930,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from February but up from 2.0 months in March 2022.
The sales rate was below the consensus forecast.
This graph shows existing home sales, on a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) basis since 1993. Sales in March (4.44 million SAAR) were down 2.4% from the previous month and were 22.0% below the March 2022 sales rate.
Sales Year-over-Year and Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA)
The second graph shows existing home sales by month for 2022 and 2023.
Sales declined 22.0% year-over-year compared to February 2022. This was the nineteenth consecutive month with sales down year-over-year.
The third graph shows existing home sales for each month, Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA), for a few selected periods. Black and light Purple are the maximum sales per month during the bubble (2005) and the minimum sales during the bust (2008 - 2011). The most recent five years are shown (2019 through 2023).
Sales NSA in March (360,000) were 21.1% below sales in March 2022 (456,000). On an NSA basis, sales were the lowest for March since 2014, and sales were only 18.4% above the record low for March in 2009.
This decrease in sales, NSA, was similar to change in the markets I track each month.
Housing Inventory Increased Slightly in March
The fourth graph shows nationwide inventory for existing homes.
According to the NAR, inventory increased to 0.98 million in March from 0.97 million in February.
Headline inventory is not seasonally adjusted, and inventory usually decreases to the seasonal lows in December and January, and peaks in mid-to-late summer. The fifth graph shows the year-over-year (YoY) change in reported existing home inventory and months-of-supply. Since inventory is not seasonally adjusted, it really helps to look at the YoY change. Note: Months-of-supply is based on the seasonally adjusted sales and not seasonally adjusted inventory.
Inventory was up 5.4% year-over-year (blue) in March compared to March 2022. This includes some pending sales - and doesn’t match some other measures - and it seems likely that active inventory was up year-over-year much more in March than the NAR is reporting.
Months of supply (red) was unchanged at 2.6 months in March from 2.6 months in February.
Median House Prices Declined Year-over-Year
On prices, the NAR reported:
The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $375,700, a decline of 0.9% from March 2022 ($379,300). Price climbed slightly in three regions but dropped in the West.
Median prices are distorted by the mix (repeat sales indexes like Case-Shiller and FHFA are probably better for measuring prices).
The YoY change in the median price peaked at 25.2% in May 2021 and prices are now down 0.9% YoY. Median house prices increased 3.3% from February to March and have declined 9.2% from the peak in June 2022 (NSA).
It is likely the Case-Shiller index will be down soon year-over-year.
Note that closed sales in March were mostly for contracts signed in January and February. Mortgage rates, according to the Freddie Mac PMMS, were around 6.3% in January and February, and that provided a boost to closed sales in February and March compared to closed sales in December and January.
April sales will be for contracts signed in February and March, and mortgage rates averaged 6.5% in March and that might impact closed sales in April.
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