Existing-Home Sales: Fourth Consecutive Decline in August

This morning's release of the September Existing-Home Sales increased from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million units. The Investing.com consensus was for 5.30 million. The latest number represents a 0.7% increase from the previous month and a 1.5% decrease year-over-year.

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

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings mustered a meager gain in September, but declined on an annual basis for the first time in over a year (July 2016; 2.2 percent). “Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country,” he said. “Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.” [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.

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 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 17.4% 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 3.1% above the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 11.2% below the turn-of-the-century sales.

Existing-Home Sales Median Prices

We've added a chart for the last 12 months of Existing-home sales median prices for single-family homes for reference.