Existing-Home Sales in May Highest Pace in 9 Years
June 22, 2016
by Jill Mislinski
This morning's release of the May Existing-Home Sales increased from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million units from a downwardly revised 5.43 million in April. The Investing.com consensus was for 5.54 million. The latest number represents a 1.8% increase from the previous month, it's highest pace in 9 years, and a 4.5% increase year-over-year.
Here is an excerpt from today's report from the National Association of Realtors.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says existing sales continue to hum along, rising in May for the third consecutive month. "This spring's sustained period of ultra-low mortgage rates has certainly been a worthy incentive to buy a home, but the primary driver in the increase in sales is more homeowners realizing the equity they've accumulated in recent years and finally deciding to trade-up or downsize," he said. "With first-time buyers still struggling to enter the market, repeat buyers using the proceeds from the sale of their previous home as their down payment are making up the bulk of home purchases right now." [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.
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 16.5% 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 5.7% above the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 8.2% below the turn-of-the-century sales.
For additional perspectives on residential real estate, here is the complete list of our monthly updates: