Existing-home sales fell 7.1% from March 2008; Since February 2009, they fell 3% (seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million units). Even that weak monthly number was due to a “downwardly revised level of 4.71 million in February.”

Prices rose 4.2% from February to March, but ignore that, and stay focused on the annual datapoint, as that what matters much more (see foot note below).

Once again, “distressed” properties accounted for over half of all transactions in March. The NAR said that discounts on distressed property averaged 20% or more versus traditional homes. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $175,200, down 12.4% from March 2008.

As noted above, I found this footnote via the NAR release to be rather interesting (is this new language?):

The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to the seasonality in buying patterns.

Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if more data is received than was originally reported.”

Is it possible these guys are getting religion . . .?

Oh, and here is my favorite Real Estate chart: Take the data before its seasonally adjusted (and therefore skewed by the 2003-06 period) and show each annual series separately.

Existing Home Sales, NSA


via Calculated Risk


According to an NAR survey, first-time buyers accounted for 53 percent of transactions. I would want to see the specifics and lots of prior data before drawing any conclusions from NAR surveys given their historic lack of credibility. (In other words, I don’t trust them).


March Existing-Home Sales Slip but First-Time Buyers Rise
NAR, April 23, 2009


Category: Real Estate

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

22 Responses to “Existing Home Prices Fall 12.4%; Sales Drop 7.1%”

  1. VennData says:

    Religion? That’s what I thought the “R” in NAR stood for.

    They’ve been a religious organization since the days of David Lereah, promising Heaven to the downtrodden. Yet the followers of their new-age mystisicm of “ever-increasing-house-prices” actually ended up in Hell.

  2. [...] Existing home prices fall 12.4% – Barry Ritholtz [...]

  3. Peter Boockvar says:

    March Existing Home Sales totaled 4.57mm annualized, less than forecasts of 4.65mm and the months supply rose to 9.8 from 9.7 to the highest since Nov when it reached 11.0. Both single family and condos’co-ops sales fell and both saw a rise in months supply. The median price fell 12.4% y/o/y but rose sequentially by 4.2%. About 50% of sales have been foreclosures and thus price continues to be the main driver in stimulating demand, not mortgage rates. Mortgage rates have fallen 144 bps since mid Nov and the purchase component in the weekly MBA data is flat since then. Refi’s have been the main beneficiary and are great in helping to lower people’s monthly nut but to quantify, the MBA estimates $2 trillion of refi’s this year and if the average person saves 1-1.5 % points off their mortgage rate, its only $20-30b in extra money, less than 1% of GDP.

  4. Mannwich says:

    And they’re still finishing quite a few condo projects here in the Twin Cities. They look pretty nice too, in the Uptown area. Not sure there are any buyers for them. At first glance, they look pretty empty to me and will probably stay that way for quite some time.

  5. Many large ranches are coming on the market in my neck of the woods.

  6. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Anybody heard from Lawrence Yun, lately? I’m worried about ol’ Larry. Think he may have been done away with.


    Why’s that? Water? Commodity prices?

  7. leftback says:

    “At first glance, they look pretty empty to me and will probably stay that way for quite some time.”

    Increased supply + Demand destruction = ? The housing market will continue to go pear-shaped.

  8. MA,

    the Regulatory Noose is being placed over Farmers’ & Ranchers’ Necks, as we speak..

    and in “Restriction of Credit”, and you’ll see more of the picture..

  9. Marcus,
    Debt would be my guess.
    Some real nice places, dream homes?, perhaps?

    As an aside, I need to give a shout out to Germania Insurance.
    My place got hit by lightening Sat. morning and we got a check today.
    Not the nightmare scenario I envisioned Saturday.

  10. R. Timm says:

    The median sales price stat is meaningless month to month and YOY. The mix of housing nationally does not stay constant YOY. There could be more sales in low cost areas like Texas and fewer sales in California or the Northeast. The mix between condos, townhouses, or single family homes could also change from year to year. You have to take into account the changing geographical mix and product mix for the statistic to be meaninfgul. Thats why folks developed indices like Case Schiller that track sales compared to prior sales of the same residence.

  11. Marcus Aurelius says:


    What regulations?


    After expenses (including a reasonable level of operating debt), farms/ranches should be profitable enterprises. Why can’t they pay their debt, and will the next purchaser be buying a money pit?

    Glad to hear about your fast settlement.

  12. Marcus,
    You don’t farm/ranch to make money.
    You do it because you want to.
    One must be a sadist to endure all the B.S.

    Reminds of the old joke
    How do you make a million dollars ranching?
    Start with two million.

  13. leftback says:

    Check out the whining and sense of entitlement among these interviews with current and former I-bankers.
    Like I said earlier, NYC is in a state of denial. Or at least one segment of the city is:

    Wonder how they will feel when their property “values” have plunged by 50%? (Or more…. ) :-)
    There is a remarkable sense here that Manhattan real estate was “not a bubble”, and “it can’t happen here”.
    Once the selling starts, it will be absolutely vertical. Got popcorn?

  14. Mannwich says:

    @leftback: Instead of the denizens of Main Street marching the streets with pitchforks, maybe it will be the denizens of Wall Street, demanding a return to multi-million dollar bonuses? After all, it’s easy to see why they feel so wronged. In this bizarro world we live in, this is actually almost plausible.

  15. leftback says:

    Looking out of my window I can just make out a marauding band of bankers protesting in their Gucci loafers. “We demand Congress pay Country Club dues” says one placard. “Dalton is F***ing Expensive”, reads another. A banner is unfurled and draped across the entrance to Ralph Lauren: “Hamptons McMansion Homeowners Association”. Gosh. Things are getting serious.

    They have set up a rather nice wood-burning stove and they are burning some papers marked “Stress Tests”…

    Jesse has a nice technical post and clearly agrees that the markets are being nudged around by Blankfein.

  16. Paul Jones says:

    Even a bear like myself is taken aback by how the For Sale signs are out competing the dandelions.

    My suggestion? Quit “hoping” and start getting to the bottom of the problems.

  17. Mannwich says:

    @leftback: Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge makes a similar case against Goldman manipulating the market (Goldman = PPT). I keep urging a buddy of mine in NYC who works in the documentary film biz (was one of the creators/producers of “Supersize Me”) to do a documentary on Goldman.

  18. Todd says:

    Farming and ranching is all about cash flow / credit / and debt management. If credit tightens up your toast. I know dirt farming in TX, you get a really profitable year maybe once every 5-10 years. You usually roll your losses over into the next years crop loans.

    Now on ranching on non arable land where you measure number acres needed to support a cow, not number of cows per acre. The price of cattle directly affects your cashflow, if you can subsidize this with leasing hunting rights. Both are depressed right now.

    Most of the time you hope to run cash positive, but at a tax loss. The only thing that you can always to count on is an increase in taxes.

  19. Jeff,

    take note, this is the last “Home-Selling Season” you’re going to see, at anywhere near these levels of relative pricing, for a looong time..

    and, since you sound like you’re not wedded to the TC..


    start w/ H.R. 875, and go from there, the Regulatory assault has been ongoing, and its fixing to ramp..
    this: http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/index.shtml
    is another piece of BS that is apiece..

  20. Publius says:

    Looks like more signal than noise in the graph….

    From this graph, the decline is slowing.

  21. Onlooker from Troy says:

    >>>Paul Jones Says:
    April 23rd, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    My suggestion? Quit “hoping” and start getting to the bottom of the problems.<<<

    Bingo. We need to get out of the state of denial and realize that the jig is up. We ran the place into the ground and we’re going to have to build it back up from a solid foundation. Anything else is just attempting to do more of what got us here. (The collective “we” of course. I’m know I’ve got plenty of company here in the camp that’s been watching this slow motion train wreck and have been yelling at the TV, radio, etc. for years!)

  22. Bob A says:

    Puget Sound region pending sales well behind 2008 levels