This morning's release of the May Existing-Home Sales showed that sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.91 million units from the previous month's 4.33 million. The Investing.com consensus was for 4.12 million. The latest number represents a 9.7% decrease from the previous month and a 26.6% increase year-over-year.

Here is an excerpt from today's report from the National Association of Realtors.

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2020) – Existing-home sales fell in May, marking a three-month decline in sales as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Each of the four major regions witnessed dips in month-over-month and year-over-year sales, with the Northeast experiencing the greatest month-over-month drop.

Total existing-home sales,1 https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slumped 9.7% from April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3.91 million in May. Overall, sales fell year-over-year, down 26.6% from a year ago (5.33 million in May 2019).

“Sales completed in May reflect contract signings in March and April – during the strictest times of the pandemic lockdown and hence the cyclical low point,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Home sales will surely rise in the upcoming months with the economy reopening, and could even surpass one-year-ago figures in the second half of the year.” [Full Report]

For a longer-term perspective, here is a snapshot of the data series, which comes from the National Association of Realtors. The data since January 1999 was previously available in the St. Louis Fed's FRED repository and is now only available for the last twelve months.

Existing Home Sales

Over this time frame, we clearly see the Real Estate Bubble, which peaked in 2005 and then fell dramatically. Sales were volatile for the first year or so following the Great Recession.

The Population-Adjusted Reality

Now let's examine the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau's mid-month population estimates show an 18.7% increase in the US population since the turn of the century. The snapshot below is an overlay of the NAR's annualized estimates with a population-adjusted version.

Existing Home Sales Growth

Existing-home sales are 25.2% below the NAR's January 2000 estimate. The population-adjusted version is 36.3% below the turn-of-the-century sales.

Existing-Home Sales Median Prices for Single Family Homes

We've added a chart for the last 12 months of Existing-home sales median prices for single-family homes for reference.

The next release of existing home sales will be on July 22.