Interest Rate Roundup

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

April existing home sales climb 2.9%; supply swells

We just got a look at April existing home sales figures. Here's a recap of what they showed:

* Existing home sales rose 2.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million units from 4.55 million in March. That was roughly in line with the forecast for a reading of 4.66 million and down 3.5% from a year earlier. Single-family sales gained 2.5%, while condo and cooperative sales rose 6.4%. Sales climbed in three out of four regions -- by 1.8% in the South, 3.5% in the West, and 11.6% in the Northeast. Sales fell 2% in the Midwest.

* The raw number of homes for sale rose 8.8% to 3.97 million units from 3.65 million in March. That was down 12.8% from a year earlier, however. The months supply at current sales pace indicator of inventory swelled to 10.2 from 9.6, with single family inventory up to 9.6 from 9 and condo inventory inching up to 15.1 from 15.

* The median price of an existing home rose slightly to $170,200 from $169,900 in March. That was down 15.4% from $201,300 in the year-ago period, the second-biggest YOY decline on record.

The sideways chop continues in the housing market. We're seeing neither a large improvement nor a significant further deterioration in conditions. Notably, while April sales climbed, the supply of homes for sale rose much more quickly. That caused a key inventory benchmark -- months supply at current sales pace -- to vault back into the double-digits.

These figures just go to show that anyone expecting a drastic rebound in sales, or an imminent rebound in home prices, is going to be disappointed. We still have a large mountain of inventory we need to chisel away at. It won't happen quickly. And the only way we'll get those numbers down is through continued price-cutting -- by traditional home sellers and by the lenders and banks who are taking back record numbers of homes through the foreclosure process.


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