Existing Home Sales Decline Fourth Month


Economists missed the boat again this month expecting a small rebound in existing home sales. Instead, sales fell 0.7%.

Existing home sales came in at 5.34 million units seasonally-adjusted annualized (SAAR).

The Econoday consensus estimate for home sales was 5.42 million units in a range of 5.39 million to 5.51 million. Thus sales were below the lowest estimate.

>Housing is the one sector of the economy not showing any life. Existing home sales managed only a 5.340 million annualized rate in July, missing Econoday's consensus of 5.420 million for a 0.7 percent dip from June and the fourth decline in a row. This is the lowest rate in 2-1/2 years. Year-on-year, resales are down 1.5 percent.

>Both single-family homes and condos show similar weakness, the former down 0.2 percent on the month and down 1.2 percent on the year at a 4.750 million rate. Condo resales, at a 590,000 rate, fell 4.8 percent on the month and are down 3.3 percent on the year. All regions show similar declines on the year with the West posting the only monthly gain in July, at 4.4 percent.

>Supply doesn't offer any relief either, down 0.5 percent to 1.920 million total resales on the market. Relative to sales, supply is unchanged at 4.3 months. And prices fell in the month, down a monthly 1.5 percent to $269,600 for a 4.5 percent yearly gain that stands in contrast to the yearly decline in sales in a comparison that doesn't point to price traction ahead.

>Rising mortgage rates aren't a plus for housing and neither are construction constraints for labor and materials that are slowing the new home market where weakness bleeds into resales. Third-quarter GDP looks to be very solid but apparently won't be getting much lift from residential investment.

Home Price Gains Dampens Demand

For a change of pace in his usual tirade about supply, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says Home Price Gains Continue to Dampen Demand.

>Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said ongoing and solid gains in home prices are beginning to reduce buyer demand. "Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million," he said. "Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market."

>Any slack in demand however has not begun to lower prices. The median existing-home price for all housing types in July was $269,600, up 4.5 percent from last July's median of $258,100. It was the 77th straight month of year-over-year gains. The median single-family house price rose 4.6 percent on an annual basis to $272,300 and a 3.2 percent gain put the condo median at $248,100.

>The inventory of unsold homes had increased in June by 4.3 percent, but the trend did not hold, falling back by 0.5 percent in July. The 1.92 million existing homes for sale represented a 4.3-month supply at the current sales rate. Both measures of inventory are the same as they were in July 2017.

>Properties typically stayed on the market for 27 days in July, up from 26 days in June but down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-five percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.

>"Listings continue to go under contract in under a month, which highlights the feedback from Realtors® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties," said Yun. "Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new home construction is not keeping up to meet demand."

Sales and Price by Region

  • Existing home sales in the Northeast dropped 8.3 percent to an annual rate of 660,000, putting those sales 1.5 percent behind last year. The median price in the region was $309,700, an annual gain of 6.8 percent.
  • Existing home sales in the Midwest declined 1.6 percent to a 1.25 million rate, 0.8 percent below a year ago. The median price was $210,500, up 2.5 percent year-over-year.
  • Existing-home sales in the South decreased 0.4 percent to an annual rate of 2.24 million and are also 0.4 percent lower than a year ago. Home prices gained 2.7 percent to a median of $233,400.
  • Existing-home sales in the West increased 4.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.19 million in July, but sales are still 4.0 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was up 5.1 percent to $392,700.

Construction Not Keeping Up With Demand

Yun did manage to get in a nonsensical statement about supply: "Construction is not keeping up to meet demand."

There is always an apparent lack of supply for free or under-priced stuff.

The supply of $10,000 affordable electric cars does not meet demand either. In fact, there is no supply whatsoever at that price, but plenty of people would buy such cars if the automakers offered them.

If home builders could make a profit on starter homes that people could afford, they would build more of them. Yun's wording makes it sound as if builders are to blame.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (5)
No. 1-5

Lowe's is closing OSH hardware stores, which they brought 5 years back or so. Stated reason is slowing home sales and remodeling.


"...new home construction is not keeping up to meet demand."

Ban construction, and end up with construction not keeping up with demand. Who would have thought?


Lawrence Yun... "The July snowstorms limited sales"


(sarc) Rising prices can't really be the reason sales are slowing because price and volume rose with price 12-15 years ago.


"If home builders could make a profit on starter homes that people could afford, they would build more of them. Yun's wording makes it sound as if builders are to blame."

Excellent point. Builders are in a straitjacket of sorts, because the Fed re-inflated asset prices back to the moon and beyond. They're doing a decent job here in DFW with the cards they've been dealt, but if you look at all of these new "affordable" homes, what you'll find is stripped-down product offerings on postage stamp lots. When there's no more reasonably priced real estate (aka LAND), builders have to cut costs somewhere.

Affordable supply continues to be snatched up by investors and flippers, the continued legacy of the bailouts that enriched everyone at the top of the food chain. I sold a home last week, and it's already on the market again, listed by the new owner as a single-family rental. #LandlordNation

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