Existing Home Sales "Slipped" 23.4%

| About: SPDR Homebuilders (XHB)

Existing-Homes sales "slipped" some in January, according to the National Association of Realtors [NAR]. The problem, the Realtors point out, is simply that some potential buyers are waiting on sidelines.

Talk about an understatement. The "slippage" the NAR refers to was a 23.4% year-over-year freefall. The term "slip" might not adequately capture the data. Plummet, plunge, nose-dive, crash, tumble or freefall might work. But "Slip?" Gee, that doesn't quite capture the true essence of the data...

Delve beneath the national average into the details, and you find all manner of ugliness.

-Median existing-home price was $201,100 in January, down 4.6% from a year ago (National average)

-Total housing inventory rose 5.5%

-At the end of January, existing homes available for sale were 4.19 million, a 10.3-month supply at the current sales pace (up from a 9.7-month supply in December).

-Single-family home sold at an annual rate of 4.34 million in January. This is 22.4% below January 2007.

-The median existing single-family home price was $198,700 in January, down 5.1% from a year ago.

-Existing condominium and co-op sales dropped 6.5%, and are 30.2% below the year ago levels. The median existing condo price ($220,400) is only 1.0% lower than January 2007.

-Existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 810,000 in January, and are 25.7 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $270,800, up 3.1 percent from January 2007.

The only good news in the report was found in the Midwest, where sales rose 3.4%, as the median price fell 4.0% ($154,200) from a year ago. Note that this was an area that was largely excluded from the real estate boom.

Existing Home Sales, January 2008

Chart courtesy of Barron's Econoday

Existing-Homes Sales Slip in January as some Potential Buyers wait on Sidelines
NAR, February 25, 2008