US existing home sales rise 4.2% in May, up 13% from May 2012

20 June 2013 16:50  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US sales of existing homes rose by 4.2% in May from April, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Thursday, noting that the pace of selling also is nearly 13% ahead of the same month last year.

In its monthly report, the association said that existing home sales last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.18m units compared with the April figure of 4.97m, also seasonally adjusted and annualised.

In May 2012, the sales pace was just under 4.6m.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said that “the housing numbers are overwhelmingly positive”, but the strong growth in sales is creating inventory shortages and driving home prices up at double-digit rates.

The report noted that in May the national median price for all housing types - single-family homes, town homes and condominiums - was $208,000 (€157,000), up by 15.4% from May 2012.

NAR said that year-over-year home prices have risen by double-digit percentages for six straight months.

In addition, the national median price for existing homes has shown 15 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, NAR said, noting that the last time there were 15 straight months of price gains was in 2005-2006.

“The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new home building can moderate future price growth,” said Yun.

New housing construction has shown some spotty improvements and sharp declines in recent months, but much of that has been in the building of multi-family apartment rental units. Work on the core market of single-family homes lately has been weak to modest at best.

Home builders have long complained that under tough, post-recession lending criteria, it is hard for them to get property development loans.

Yun said that with the overall US economy strengthening, “you can expect limited housing supplies for the balance of the year in much of the country".

The US housing industry, especially new home construction, is a key downstream consuming sector for a wide variety of chemicals, resins and derivative products.

($1 = €0.75)

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

By: Joe Kamalick
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