Existing Single-Family Home Sales Fall Again in December

By Robert Hughes

Sales of existing homes fell 6.4 percent in December to a 4.99 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. Sales are down 10.3 percent from a year ago and 12.8 percent from the recent peak of 5.72 million in November 2017. Sales declined in all four regions tallied: sales were off 11.2 percent in the Midwest and were 10.5 percent below the year-ago level; sales declined 6.8 percent in the Northeast, putting sales 6.8 percent below year-ago levels; sales dropped 5.4 percent in the South, leaving that region’s sales rate 8.7 percent below the year-ago pace; and sales fell 1.9 percent for the month in the West and are 15.0 percent below the December 2017 rate.

Sales in the market for existing single-family homes, which account for just under 90 percent of total existing-home sales, fell 5.5 percent in December, coming in at a 4.45 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (see chart). From a year ago, sales are down 10.1 percent. Sales were down across three of the four regions: sales dropped 11.1 percent in the Midwest to 1.12 million; the Northeast saw a 6.5 percent decline to 580,000; and the South posted a 5.2 percent pullback, coming in at 1.84 million. Sales rose 2.2 percent in the West to 910,000 from 890,000 in the prior month.

Total inventory of existing single-family homes for sale declined 11.1 percent to 1.36 million in December, the sixth decrease in a row, leaving the months’ supply (inventory times 12 divided by the annual selling rate) at 3.7, down 5.1 percent from November but 19.4 percent above the year-ago level (see chart).

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Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes joined AIER in 2013 following more than 25 years in economic and financial markets research on Wall Street. Bob was formerly the head of Global Equity Strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, where he developed equity investment strategy combining top-down macro analysis with bottom-up fundamentals. Prior to BBH, Bob was a Senior Equity Strategist for State Street Global Markets, Senior Economic Strategist with Prudential Equity Group and Senior Economist and Financial Markets Analyst for Citicorp Investment Services. Bob has a MA in economics from Fordham University and a BS in business from Lehigh University.