Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lawler: Early Read on December Existing Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 1/12/2012 06:48:00 PM

From economist Tom Lawler:

Based on the incoming reports I’ve seen so far, I estimate that existing home sales based on the NAR’s methodology and reflecting last month’s controversial benchmark revisions, ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 4.64 million, up about 5% from November’s pace, and up about 4.3% from last December’s pace.

On the inventory front, MLS across the country reported some hefty monthly declines in listings, and most reported YOY declines for December that exceeded November. As I’ve noted before, however, “matching” reported listings with the NAR inventory numbers has been challenging in any given month. My “best guess” is that the NAR will report an existing home inventory number in December of around 2.44 million, down 5.4% from November and down 19.2% from last December.

The plunge in home listings, to levels not seen since 2005, has only been highlighted by a few analysts and folks in the media, but it’s actually a BIG DEAL.

On the median sales price front, I expect the NAR to report a median existing home sales price that is about 3.5% lower than last December.

CR Note: The NAR is scheduled to release December existing home sales on Friday, January 20th at 10:00 AM ET. Based on Tom's estimates of sales and inventory, this would put months-of-supply at around 6.3 months (lowest since early 2006), and would put listed inventory at the lowest level since early-2005.