Sales of existing homes expanded for the second consecutive month in August, the first time back-to-back gains in the sales rate have been recorded since November 2017. The 1.3% gain put sales at an annual rate of 5.49 million units, the strongest sales pace since early 2018.  Year-to-date, sales are 2.6% below sales through the first eight months of 2018.1

The median price of existing homes sold in August was $278,200, 4.7% above the median price in August 2018. The median price has increased at a 5.0% average annual rate over the past five years.1

As widely expected, the Federal Reserve lowered its target range for the federal-funds rate on September 18 by 25 basis points. The target range, the Fed’s primary policy lever for short-term interest rates, now stands at 1.75% to 2.00%. It follows a similar reduction on July 31, which was the first cut in rates since late 2008.2

The projections from the members of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee about where monetary policy would be at the end of this year have shifted dramatically in the past nine months. In December 2018, none of the 17 members projected that the target range would be below 2.25%, with six members expecting the range to be above 3.00%. In this month’s projections, 12 members expect the range to end the year between 1.50% and 2.00%.2

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