Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Comments on New Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 3/24/2015 11:03:00 AM

The new home sales report for February was above expectations at 539 thousand on a seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR).

Also, sales for January were revised up (sales for November and December was revised slightly).

Sales in 2015 are off to a solid start, although this is just two months of data.

Earlier: New Home Sales at 539,000 Annual Rate in February

The Census Bureau reported that new home sales this year, through February, were 81,000, Not seasonally adjusted (NSA). That is up 19% from 68,000 during the same period of 2014 (NSA). This is very early - and the next six months are usually the strongest of the year NSA - but this is a solid start.

Sales were up 24.8% year-over-year in February.

New Home Sales 2013 2014Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows new home sales for 2014 and 2015 by month (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).

The year-over-year gain will be strong in Q1 (the first half was especially weak in 2014), and I expect the year-over-year increases to slow later this year.

And here is another update to the "distressing gap" graph that I first started posting a number of years ago to show the emerging gap caused by distressed sales.  Now I'm looking for the gap to close over the next few years.

Distressing GapThe "distressing gap" graph shows existing home sales (left axis) and new home sales (right axis) through February 2015. This graph starts in 1994, but the relationship has been fairly steady back to the '60s.

Following the housing bubble and bust, the "distressing gap" appeared mostly because of distressed sales.

I expect existing home sales to move sideways (distressed sales will continue to decline and be partially offset by more conventional / equity sales).  And I expect this gap to slowly close, mostly from an increase in new home sales.

Distressing GapAnother way to look at this is a ratio of existing to new home sales.

This ratio was fairly stable from 1994 through 2006, and then the flood of distressed sales kept the number of existing home sales elevated and depressed new home sales. (Note: This ratio was fairly stable back to the early '70s, but I only have annual data for the earlier years).

In general the ratio has been trending down, and this ratio will probably continue to trend down over the next several years.

Note: 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.