Existing Home Sales Decline


May 2012 existing home sales declined 1.5 percent from April, but are up 9.6 percent from the same period a year ago. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported May 2012 total existing home sales were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.55 million combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. The April 2012 seasonally adjusted rate was 4.62 million, and the seasonally adjusted rate a year ago in May 2011 was 4.15 million units.

In May 2012, single-family existing home sales were 10.4 percent above the level of a year ago, but down 1.0 percent from April. The May 2012 level of single-family existing sales was a seasonally adjusted 4.05 million sales compared to 3.67 million seasonally adjusted single-family existing sales a year ago, and 4.09 million seasonally adjusted single-family sales in April 2012. Seasonally adjusted condominium and co-op sales were 500,000 in May 2012, down 5.7 percent from April, and up 4.2 percent from the same period a year ago.   

The total housing inventory at the end of May decreased 0.4 percent from the previous month to 2.49 million existing homes for sale. At the current sales rate, the May 2012 inventory represents a 6.6-month supply which is up from a 6.5-month supply in April, but still much improved from the 9.1-month supply of homes a year ago. NAR reported 25 percent of May 2012 sales were distressed, defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. This level was down from 28 percent in April and 31 percent a year ago. The median sales price of existing homes rose to $182,600 in May 2012, up 7.9 percent from the same period a year ago.

May 2012 all cash sales decreased to 28 percent of transactions, down from 29 percent in April and 30 percent from the same period a year ago. Investors accounted for 17 percent of May 2012 home sales, down from 20 percent in April and 19 percent a year ago. First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of May 2012 sales, down from 35 percent in April and 36 percent a year ago. 

The April 2012 Pending Home Sales Index decreased 5.5 percent from March.  So it was expected that existing home sales would decrease in May. The decrease in May 2012 existing sales is consistent with the pattern between existing home sales and the Pending Home Sales Index.

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