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Existing-Home Sales in April Signal Slowly Building Momentum

May 20, 2016

by Jill Mislinski

This morning's release of the April Existing-Home Sales increased from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million units from an upwardly revised 5.36 million in March. The Investing.com consensus was for 5.40 million. The latest number represents a 1.7% increase from the previous month and a 6.0% increase year-over-year.

Here is an excerpt from today's report from the National Association of Realtors.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says April's sales increase signals slowly building momentum for the housing market this spring. "Primarily driven by a convincing jump in the Midwest, where home prices are most affordable, sales activity overall was at a healthy pace last month as very low mortgage rates and modest seasonal inventory gains encouraged more households to search for and close on a home," he said. "Except for in the West — where supply shortages and stark price growth are hampering buyers the most — sales are meaningfully higher than a year ago in much of the country." [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 2013. It can be found here.

Existing Home Sales

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 latest estimate puts us back to the general level around the turn of the century.

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 16.4% 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 Growth

Existing-home sales are 4.2% above the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 9.5% below the turn-of-the-century sales.


For additional perspectives on residential real estate, here is the complete list of our monthly updates: