Existing-Home Sales: Down 6% from November and 8.3% YoY

This morning's release of the December Existing-Home Sales showed that sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.10 million units from the previous month's 6.49 million. The Investing.com consensus was for 6.44 million. The latest number represents a 6% decrease from the previous month and an 8.3% decrease YoY.

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

WASHINGTON (January 20, 2022) – Existing-home sales declined in December, snapping a streak of three straight months of gains, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Each of the four major U.S. regions witnessed sales fall in December from both a month-over-month and a year-over-year basis. Despite the drop, overall sales for 2021 increased 8.5%.

Total existing-home sales,1 https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 4.6% from November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.18 million in December. From a year-over-year perspective, sales waned 7.1% (6.65 million in December 2020).

"December saw sales retreat, but the pull back was more a sign of supply constraints than an indication of a weakened demand for housing," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Sales for the entire year finished strong, reaching the highest annual level since 2006."

Yun, however, does expect existing-home sales to slow slightly in the coming months due to higher mortgage rates, but noted that recent employment gains and stricter underwriting standards ensure home sales are in no danger of crashing. He forecasts rates to remain below 4% by year-end and wages to hold firm due to a tight labor market.

"This year, consumers should prepare to endure some increases in mortgage rates," Yun cautioned. "I also expect home prices to grow more moderately by 3% to 5% in 2022, and then similarly in 2023 as more supply reaches the market." [Full Report]

In terms of median home sales prices, here's the latest:

The median existing-home price3 for all housing types in December was $360,300, up 14.9% from December 2020 ($313,700), as prices climbed in each region. This marks 117 straight months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.

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 for the last twelve months.

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 Population-Adjusted Reality

Now let's examine the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau's mid-month population estimates show a 19.4% 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 16.6% above the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 1.2% 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 February 18.