Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in January

by Bill McBride on 2/19/2015 03:45:00 PM

From housing economist Tom Lawler:

Based on local realtor/MLS reports from across the country, I estimate that US existing home sales as measured by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.90 million in January, down 2.8% from December’s preliminary pace but up 6.1% from last January’s depressed pace. Unadjusted sales are likely to show a smaller YOY gain, reflecting the fewer number of business days this January compared to last January.

(Note: in this month’s release the NAR will incorporate its annual seasonal factor revision, which will impact the monthly pattern of seasonally adjusted sales over the past few years. I’ve attempted to “allow” for this revision.)

On the inventory front, while there were sizable differences across market, in aggregate I estimate that the inventory of existing homes for sale as measured by the NAR at the end of January was unchanged from December, and down 1.6% from a year earlier. The NAR’s “seasonally adjusted” (derivable from supplemental data) inventory estimate fell sharply during the last few months of last year, for reasons that are not clear.

Finally, based on local realtor/MLS data I project that the NAR’s median SF home sales price in January will be up about 5.4% from last January. I should note, however, that of late the increase in the NAR’s median sales price estimate has been higher than that suggest by local realtor reports.

CR Note: The NAR is scheduled to release January existing home sales on Monday, February 23, 2015, at 10 AM ET.