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Economic Report

May 19, 2022, 3:19 p.m. EDT

U.S. existing-home sales fall for third straight month in April

By Greg Robb

The numbers: Existing-home sales fell 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.61 million in April, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Compared with April 2021, home sales were down 5.9%.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had expected a decrease to 5.64 million units. 

This is the third straight monthly decline and comes as mortgage rates have spiked and prices have risen.

Key details: Scarcity of homes for sale continued to be a major factor. The total inventory of homes for sale was 1.03 million units, down 10.4% from one year ago.

Expressed in terms of the months-supply metric, there was a 2.2-month supply of homes for sale in April. Before the pandemic, a 4-month supply was more the norm. 

The median price for an existing home is at an all-time high of $391,200, up 14.8% from April 2021. 

Homes remained on the market for 17 days on average.

Regionally, sales rose in the Northeast and Midwest and sank in the South and the West.

All-cash transactions made up 26% of all transactions. About 28% of homes were sold to first-time home buyers.

What NAR is saying? “I expect further declines in home sales,” said Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, in a discussion with reporters. Mortgage rates are rising and supply remains low, he noted. There is less incentive for homeowners to list their properties because they would be relinquishing in many cases their super-low mortgage rates.

Market reaction: Stocks (DOW:DJIA) (S&P:SPX) opened lower on Thursday on continued growth concerns. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note (XTUP:BX:TMUBMUSD10Y) fell to 2.8% on flight-to-safety trading.

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.