|Existing Home Sales - Level - SAAR||5.40M||5.25M to 5.60M||5.36M||5.55M|
|Existing Home Sales - M/M Change||-3.4%||4.7%|
|Existing Home Sales - Yr/Yr Change||3.9%||8.8%|
Sales of existing homes are not a source of strength for the economy, down 3.4 percent in October to a slightly lower-than-expected annualized rate of 5.36 million. Year-on-year, sales are up only 3.9 percent which is the lowest for this reading since January. Weakness is split roughly even between single-family homes, down 3.7 percent in the month to a 4.75 million rate, and condos, down 1.6 percent to a 610,000 rate.
Lack of homes on the market, in a reflection of price weakness, remains a major factor holding down sales. Supply relative to sales is at 4.8 months, up slightly from the prior month but still below the 5.2 months of October last year. A reading of 6.0 months is considered a balanced market. The number of homes on the market, at 2.14 million, is actually below the 2.24 million this time last year, an unwanted surprise that the National Association of Realtors, which compiles the existing home sales report, calls "disturbing".
Price data for October are once again weak, down 0.9 percent for both the median (at $219,600) and the average (at $262,800). Year-on-year, the median is up 5.8 percent with the average up 3.4 percent.
Regional sales data show a sharp decline in the West, down 8.7 percent in the month for a year-on-year gain of 2.7 percent. The South, which is the largest housing region, also shows weakness, down 3.2 percent for only a 0.5 percent year-on-year gain. The Northeast and Midwest were little changed in October with year-on-year appreciation very solid for both, in the high single digits.
But the weakness in the West and the weakness in the South are not positive indications for the housing sector where moderate strength on the new home side of the market is being offset by weakness on the existing side.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
Existing home sales bounced up strongly in September but a dip back is expected for October with the Econoday consensus at a 5.40 million annual rate, down what would be 2.7 percent in the month. The consensus estimate, based on weakness in pending home sales data, would point to a falling sales trend, one that would not point to home-price appreciation or rising household wealth.
Existing home sales tally the number of previously constructed homes, condominiums and co-ops in which a sale closed during the month. Existing homes (also known as home resales) account for a larger share of the market than new homes and indicate housing market trends. (National Association of Realtors)
This provides a gauge of not only the demand for housing, but the economic momentum. People have to be feeling pretty comfortable and confident in their own financial position to buy a house. Furthermore, this narrow piece of data has a powerful multiplier effect through the economy, and therefore across the markets and your investments. By tracking economic data such as home resales, investors can gain specific investment ideas as well as broad guidance for managing a portfolio.
Even though home resales don't always create new output, once the home is sold, it generates revenues for the realtor. It brings a myriad of consumption opportunities for the buyer.
Refrigerators, washers, dryers and furniture are just a few items home buyers might purchase. The economic "ripple effect" can be substantial especially when you think a hundred thousand new households around the country are doing this every month. Since the economic backdrop is the most pervasive influence on financial markets, home resales have a direct bearing on stocks, bonds and commodities. In a more specific sense, trends in the existing home sales data carry valuable clues for the stocks of home builders, mortgage lenders and home furnishings companies.