Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ratio of Existing to New Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 11/25/2009 03:26:00 PM

Here is more on the "distressing gap" between existing and new home sales.

The following graph shows the ratio of existing home sales divided by new home sales through October.

Ratio: Existing home sale to new home sales Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This ratio has increased again to a new all time high.

The ratio of existing to new home sales increased at first because of the flood of distressed sales. This kept existing home sales elevated, and depressed new home sales since builders couldn't compete with the low prices of all the foreclosed properties.

The recent increase in the ratio was due primarily to the timing of the first time homebuyer tax credit (before the extension). New home sales are counted when the contract is signed, and usually before construction begins. So to close before the original Dec 1st deadline, the contract had to be signed early this Summer (that might explain the dip in the ratio earlier this year).

Existing home sales are counted when escrow closes, and escrow usually takes less than 60 days. So the recent surge in sales were boosted by buyers rushing to beat the tax credit. And this has pushed the ratio to a new record.

Distressing Gap The second graph shows the same information with existing home sales (left axis), and new home sales (right axis). This is updated through the October data released this morning.

Although distressed sales will stay elevated for some time, I expect this gap to eventually close.

The ratio could decline because of an increase in new home sales, or a decrease in existing home sales - I expect a combination of both.

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