Existing Home Sales Fall 4.6%

This was another weak housing report. Do not be fooled by the monthly gains, as we have been saying for 4 years now, as they are meaningless (see chart at bottom).The NAR reported that existing-home sales increased in February (month over month). However, overall sales activity remains relatively soft, as both sales and prices fell form the same period a year ago:

-Single-family home sales rose 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.23 million in February. They fell 4.6% from the 4.95 million-unit level of February 2008;

-Distressed properties accounted for 45% of all sales;

-Home foreclosures were up 30% in February from a year earlier;

-The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $165,400 in February, down 15.5 percent from a year ago.

-The median existing single-family home price was $164,600 in February, down 15% from a year ago

-Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 5.2% to 3.80 million existing homes available for sale, a 9.7-month supply at the current sales pace.

-The absolute number of homes for sale rose to 3.8 million from 3.6 million

-The West continued to see the biggest drops in prices due to foreclosures.

While there was a healthy increase in sales from January, a look at the non-seasonal data might be instructive: As expected, the gins are primarily seasonal in nature, with January the worst sales month of the year, and February the start of modest seasonal improvements.

Existing Home Sales, Non-Seasonally Adjusted ehs-nsa-feb2009.jpg

chart via Calculated Risk

Sources: Existing-Home Sales Rise In February NAR, March 23, 2009 http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2009/03/february_existing_home_sales


Originally published at The Big Picture blog and reproduced here with the author’s permission.