US sales of existing homes fall 2.6% in March

19 April 2012 20:56  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US sales of existing homes fell by 2.6% in March from February, real estate officials said on Thursday, but they noted that the pace of sales remains well ahead of the first few months of 2011.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that sales of existing homes last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48m, down from the 4.6m sales reported for February.

The March figure also was below the January level of 4.57m units sold (also seasonally adjusted and annualised).

“Existing home sales are moving up and down in a fairly narrow range that is well above the level of activity during the first half of last year,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

The March pace of existing home sales was 5.2% better than the same month of 2011.

“The recovery is happening,” he said, “although not at a breakout pace.”

“With job growth, low interest rates, bargain home prices and an improving economy, the pent-up demand is coming to market and we expect housing to be notably better this year,” Yun said.

The housing market is a key downstream consuming sector for a wide variety of chemicals, resins and derivative products. 

While new home construction is the principal consuming engine for chemicals in the housing sector, sales of existing homes are important because they take older residences off the market and help generate demand for new construction.

Yun said that despite monthly up-and-down movements in the existing home sales data, “the recovery is in the process of settling into a higher level of home sales”.

He noted that sales of existing homes have seen nine consecutive months of year-over-year gains.

But the decline in existing home sales for March comes in the wake of a 5.8% drop in new home construction last month, a decline in home builders’ expectations, and a fall-off in sales of new single-family homes in February.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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