Existing-Home Sales Drop in February
This morning's release of the February Existing-Home Sales decreased from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million units from 5.69 million in January. The Investing.com consensus was for 5.57 million. The latest number represents a 3.7% decrease from the previous month and a 5.4% increase year-over-year.
Here is an excerpt from today's report from the National Association of Realtors.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings retreated in February as too few properties for sale and weakening affordability conditions stifled buyers in most of the country. "Realtors® are reporting stronger foot traffic from a year ago, but low supply in the affordable price range continues to be the pest that's pushing up price growth and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers," he said. "Newly listed properties are being snatched up quickly so far this year and leaving behind minimal choices for buyers trying to reach the market." [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 levels reached before the 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 16.9% 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 4.8% above the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 9.3% below the turn-of-the-century sales.