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New Residential Sales According to the Census Bureau: May 2020

Jun 01, 2020 by Brad Cartier
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Last week the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly released their monthly residential sales data that point to a flattening of home sales. The jump in home sales between March and April came in at 0.6% and is 6.2% lower in April 2020 than the year earlier.

Keep in mind, this gain is following a large decline (13.7%) felt in March.

The slowdown in home sales during the typically higher spring sales season shows the impact of the current pandemic on the housing market. That said, when looking at the Census Bureau data, some interesting regional trends emerge.

In the West and Northeast, home sales compared to April 2019 were down 33% and 26% last month, respectively. In the South, however, home sales were actually up 4% compared to this time last year.

In the South and Midwest, we saw an uptick in sales between March and April, with a year-over-year increase of 2.4% and 26.5%, respectively. This shows a continued healthy demand in the real estate sector, one of the many potential economic recovery indicators.

Supply is also rising slowly. From March to April we saw a decrease in supply of 1.6% and a slight increase of 3.3% between April 2019 and April 2020. If this trend continues, we could see downward pressure on home prices.

Recently released National Association of Realtors (NAR) data shows a national home price gain of 7.4% year over year when compared to April 2019.

New data from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices released last week shows an annual home price gain of 4.4% in March, up from 4.2% in February. Phoenix (8.2%), Seattle (6.9%), and Charlotte (5.8%) had the highest year-over-year gains.

Craig J. Lazzara, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices, comments on the data, "Housing prices continue to be remarkably stable. The National Composite Index rose by 4.4% in March 2020, with comparable growth in the 10- and 20-City Composites (up 3.4% and 3.9%, respectively). In all three cases, March's year-over-year gains were ahead of February's, continuing a trend of gently accelerating home prices that began last autumn. March results were broad-based. Prices rose in each of the 19 cities for which we have reported data, and price increases accelerated in 17 cities."

Keep in mind that this S&P data is only for March, so it doesn't contain the full economic picture that we will see when the April data comes out.

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