Existing-Home Sales Down 7% In February

This morning's release of the February Existing-Home Sales showed that sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.22 million units from the previous month's revised 6.66 million. The Investing.com consensus was for 6.50 million. The latest number represents a 7.0% decrease from the previous month.

Here is an excerpt from today's report from the National Association of Realtors.

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2021) – Existing-home sales declined in February, following two prior months of gains, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Month-over-month, only one major region saw an increase in February, but all four U.S. regions recorded year-over-year gains.

Total existing-home sales,1 https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 6.6% from January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.22 million in February. Sales in total climbed year-over-year, up 9.1% from a year ago (5.70 million in February 2020).

"Despite the drop in home sales for February – which I would attribute to historically-low inventory – the market is still outperforming pre-pandemic levels," said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. [Full Report]

For a longer-term perspective, here is a snapshot of the data series, which comes from the National Association of Realtors. The data since January 1999 was previously available in the St. Louis Fed's FRED repository and is now only available for the last twelve months.

Existing Home Sales

Over this time frame, we clearly see the Real Estate Bubble, which peaked in 2005 and then fell dramatically. Sales were volatile for the first year or so following the Great Recession.

The Population-Adjusted Reality

Now let's examine the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau's mid-month population estimates show a 19.2% increase in the US population since the turn of the century. The snapshot below is an overlay of the NAR's annualized estimates with a population-adjusted version.

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