Existing-Home Sales: Down 0.5% in August, Better Than Forecast

This morning's release of the August Existing-Home Sales showed that sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.80 million units from the previous month's 4.82 million. The Investing.com consensus was for 4.7 million. The latest number represents a 0.5% decrease from the previous month and a 19.9% decrease YoY.

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

WASHINGTON (September 21, 2022) – Existing-home sales experienced a slight dip in August, marking the seventh consecutive month of declines, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Month-over-month sales varied across the four major U.S. regions as two regions recorded increases, one was unchanged and the other posted a drop. On a year-over-year basis, however, sales fell in all regions.

Total existing-home sales,1 https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, notched a minor contraction of 0.4% from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.80 million in August. Year-over-year, sales faded by 19.9% (5.99 million in August 2021).

"The housing sector is the most sensitive to and experiences the most immediate impacts from the Federal Reserve's interest rate policy changes," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "The softness in home sales reflects this year's escalating mortgage rates. Nonetheless, homeowners are doing well with near nonexistent distressed property sales and home prices still higher than a year ago." [Full Report]

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

The median existing-home price3 for all housing types in August was $389,500, a 7.7% jump from August 2021 ($361,500), as prices ascended in all regions. This marks 126 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record. However, it was the second month in a row that the median sales price retracted after reaching a record high of $413,800 in June, the usual seasonal trend of prices declining after peaking in the early summer.

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 19.9% 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 Growth

Existing-home sales are 8.2% below the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 22.6% below the turn-of-the-century sales.

The next release of existing home sales will be on September 21.