By Jill Mislinski
Monday morning's release of the March Existing-Home Sales increased from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million units. The Investing.com consensus was for 5.55 million. The latest number represents a 1.1% increase from the previous month and a 1.2% decrease year over year.
Here is an excerpt from Monday's report from the National Association of Realtors.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings in March eked forward despite challenging market conditions in most of the country. "Robust gains last month in the Northeast and Midwest - a reversal from the weather-impacted declines seen in February - helped overall sales activity rise to its strongest pace since last November at 5.72 million," said Yun. "The unwelcoming news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year ago levels because supply is woefully low and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford."
"Although the strong job market and recent tax cuts are boosting the incomes of many households, speedy price growth is squeezing overall affordability in several markets - especially those out West," said Yun. [Full Report]
For a longer-term perspective, here is a snapshot of the data series, which comes from the National Association of Realtors. The data since January 1999 was previously available in the St. Louis Fed's FRED repository and is now only available from January 2014. It can be found here.
Over this time frame, we clearly see the Real Estate Bubble, which peaked in 2005 and then fell dramatically. Sales were volatile for the first year or so following the Great Recession.
The Population-Adjusted Reality
Now let's examine the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau's mid-month population estimates show a 17.9% increase in the US population since the turn of the century. The snapshot below is an overlay of the NAR's annualized estimates with a population-adjusted version.
Existing-home sales are 7.1% above the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 8.1% below the turn-of-the-century sales.
Existing-Home Sales Median Prices for Single-Family Homes
We've added a chart for the last 12 months of existing-home sales median prices for single-family homes for reference.
The next release of existing home sales will be on May 31.