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  Existing Home Sales Declined 3.3% in April
Posted Under: Data Watch • Home Sales • Housing
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Implications: Let's hold off on housing for a moment. The most exciting news today was that initial claims for unemployment insurance came in at 274,000, bringing the four-week moving average to 266,000, the lowest level since April 2000. This, paired with a decline in continuing claims to the lowest level since November 2000, signals greater strength in the labor market and further supports the Fed raising rates sooner rather than later. Sales of existing homes took a breather in April; however this marks the second consecutive month of sales above an annual rate of 5 million units. Sales have now increased year over year for seven months, showing that demand continues to grow. Sales are up 6.1% from a year ago, and the underlying trend suggests more solid gains in the year ahead. Sales of distressed homes (foreclosures and short sales) now account for only 10% of total sales, down from 15% a year ago. All-cash buyers are down to 24% of sales from 32% a year ago. As a result, while total sales are up a moderate 6.1% from a year ago, non-cash sales (where the buyer uses a mortgage loan) are up a more robust 18.6%. What this means is that when distressed and all-cash sales eventually bottom out, total sales will start rising at a more rapid pace. So even though credit (but, not liquidity) remains relatively tight, we see evidence of a thaw, which suggests overall sales will climb at a faster pace in the year ahead. What's interesting is that the percentage of buyers using credit has increased as the Fed tapered and then ended QE. Those predicting a housing crash without more QE were completely wrong. The inventory of existing homes increased 10% in April, however it remains 0.9% lower than a year ago. Lack of supply is one of the main drivers behind continuing price increases and houses on the market selling faster in April (39 days) than at any time since July 2013 (32 days). The median sales price of an existing home rose to $219,400 in April, up 8.9% from a year ago. In other news this morning, the Philadelphia Fed index, a measure of strength in East Coast manufacturing, declined to 6.7 in May versus 7.5 in April, signaling continued Plow Horse growth in that sector.

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Posted on Thursday, May 21, 2015 @ 11:47 AM • Post Link Print this post Printer Friendly

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