Economy

Economic Data Roundup (02/22/2017)

2/22/17 12:00 PM

iStock-502211716.jpgA new report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that total existing home sales in America, which account for a much larger portion of the overall U.S. housing market than new home sales (due out this Friday), jumped by 3.3 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million units. That was the fifth increase in the past six months, much better than economists had expected, and the largest monthly gain since March of last year. Sales of single-family homes (non-rentals) lifted to the best level in roughly a decade in January, showing that consumer housing demand has for now remained strong in the face of rising mortgage rates. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, added that “Strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home. Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions.”

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Regionally, home sales in January slid in the Midwest (-1.5%) but lifted in the West (+6.6%), the Northeast (+5.3%), and the South (+3.6%). Total housing inventory rose by 2.4 percent to 1.69 million existing homes available for sale in January, and months’ supply held steady at 3.6 based on the current sales pace. The median selling price was $228,900 in January, a 7.1 percent gain compared to this same period last year and the 59th consecutive month of annual growth. NAR president William E. Brown, added that “Supply and demand imbalances continue to be burdensome in many markets, and now Fannie Mae is supporting a Wall Street firm's investment in single-family rentals. This will only further hamper tight supply and put major investors in direct competition with traditional buyers. Instead, the GSEs should lower overly burdensome fees and help qualified borrowers become homeowners.”

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Sources: Econoday, Bloomberg, NAR, FRBSL

Post author: Charles Couch