Monday, April 25, 2011

Home Sales: Distressing Gap

by Bill McBride on 4/25/2011 12:15:00 PM

Another update ... this graph shows existing home sales (left axis) and new home sales (right axis) through March. This graph starts in 1994, but the relationship has been fairly steady back to the '60s. Then along came the housing bubble and bust, and the "distressing gap" appeared (due mostly to distressed sales).

Distressing Gap Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

The gap is due mostly to the flood of distressed sales. This has kept existing home sales elevated, and depressed new home sales since builders can't compete with the low prices of all the foreclosed properties.

1) It is important to note that existing home sales are counted when transactions are closed, and new home sales are counted when contracts are signed. So the timing of sales is different.

2) The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is working on a benchmark revision for existing home sales numbers. As I noted in January, this benchmarking is expected to result in significant downward revisions to sales estimates for the last few years - perhaps as much as 10% to 15% for 2009 and 2010. Even with these revisions, most of the "distressing gap" will remain.