January 24, 2008 – Existing-home sales fell 2.2% in December to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.89 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday, marking the lowest rate in nine years. Resales are down 22% year-over-year and 32% from the peak two years ago, while sales of single-family homes dropped 2% to a 10-year-low annual rate of 4.31 million. In addition, the overall 2007 median sales price for single-family homes fell 1.8%, the first decline in the 40-year history of the data. Read the full release.
Home price declines were especially steep in the West (-11.1% from year ago) and he Northeast (-8.9%). I have always been much more interested in existing home prices than new home prices for the simple reason that they are so much bigger. According to the census bureau report on residential vacancies and homeownership, there were 128.2 million housing units in the United States in the third quarter 2007. Of those, 110.3 million housing units were occupied: 75.2 million by owners and 35.1 million by renters. The stock of existing homes is worth $12.2 trillion.
In December 2007, 4.89 million existing homes sold, an annual rate of 5,652,000 units. By comparison, new home sales are small: 731,000 new homes sold in 2007 (through November).