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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

November 2014 U.S. Home Sales, Inventory and Prices

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Sales of new single-family homes in November declined for a second month, by 7,000 units (-1.6%) relative to the previous month, to a seasonally adjusted and annualized rate (SAAR) of 438,000. Data for October was revised down from 458,000 to 445,000 units. This data series has undergone significant revisions in recent months; post-revision sales since May are roughly 22% lower than initial estimates. Sales have been flat since early 2013, with June 2013 marking the fastest rate of 459,000 units. Sales in November were 3.1% below year-earlier levels.
Meanwhile, the median price of new homes sold retreated from October’s peak, down by $9,200 (-3.2%) to $280,900. The average price of homes sold fell by an even greater $53,400 (-14.2%). Although single-family starts dropped faster than sales in November, the three-month average ratio of starts to sales jumped to 1.54. 
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As mentioned in our post on November’s housing permits, starts and completions, single-unit completions declined by 18,000 units (-2.9%). Nonetheless, new-home inventory expanded in absolute (+3,000 units) terms while months of inventory were stable. 
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Existing home sales tumbled in November (-320,000 units or 6.1%) to 4.93 million units (SAAR). With sales of new homes falling more slowly than existing homes, the share of total sales comprised of new homes rose to 8.2%. The median price of previously owned homes sold in November slipped (-$2,200 or 1.1%) to $205,300. Inventory of existing homes declined in absolute (-150,000 units) terms, but months of inventory was unchanged at 5.1 months. 
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Housing affordability degraded in October despite the median price of existing homes for sale falling by $900 (-0.4%) to $208,700. Concurrently, Standard & Poor’s reported that the U.S. National Index in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price indices posted a not-seasonally adjusted monthly change of -0.2% in October (+4.6% relative to a year earlier, the smallest annual gain since October 2012).
“After a long period when home prices rose, but at a slower pace with each passing month, we are seeing hints that prices could end 2014 on a strong note and accelerate into 2015,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Two months ago, all 20 cities were experiencing weakening annual price increases. Last month, 18 experienced weakness. This time, 12 cities had weaker annual price growth, but eight saw the pace of price gains pick up. Seasonally adjusted, all 20 cities had higher prices than a month ago.
“Most national economic statistics, other than those connected to housing, posted positive reports in November and early December. Third quarter GDP was revised to 5% real growth at annual rates, and unemployment was at 5.8% as payrolls added over 300,000 jobs in November.” However, Blitzer added, “Housing was somber: housing starts pulled back 1.6%, existing home sales were at 4.93 million, down 6.1%, and new home sales were 438,000, down 1.6%, all in November.” 
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The foregoing comments represent the general economic views and analysis of Delphi Advisors, and are provided solely for the purpose of information, instruction and discourse. They do not constitute a solicitation or recommendation regarding any investment.

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