Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Few Comments on March Existing Home Sales

by Bill McBride on 4/22/2015 12:52:00 PM

Inventory is still very low (but up 2.0% year-over-year in March). More inventory will probably mean smaller price increases and slightly higher sales, and less inventory means lower sales and somewhat larger price increases. This will be important to watch over the next few months during the Spring buying season.
Note: As usually happens, housing economist Tom Lawler's estimate was much closer than the consensus to the NAR reported sales rate.

Also, the NAR reported total sales were up 10.4% from March 2014, however normal equity sales were up even more, and distressed sales down sharply.  From the NAR (from a survey that is far from perfect):

Distressed sales—foreclosures and short sales—were 10 percent of sales in March, down from 11 percent in February and 14 percent a year ago. Seven percent of March sales were foreclosures and 3 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16 percent below market value in March (17 percent in February), while short sales were also discounted 16 percent (15 percent in February).
Last year in March the NAR reported that 14% of sales were distressed sales.

A rough estimate: Sales in March 2014 were reported at 4.70 million SAAR with 14% distressed.  That gives 658 thousand distressed (annual rate), and 4.04 million equity / non-distressed.  In March 2015, sales were 5.19 million SAAR, with 10% distressed.  That gives 519 thousand distressed - a decline of about 21% from March 2014 - and 4.67 million equity.  Although this survey isn't perfect, this suggests distressed sales were down sharply - and normal sales up around 15%.

The following graph shows existing home sales Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA).

Existing Home Sales NSAClick on graph for larger image.

Sales NSA in March (red column) were the highest for March since 2007 (NSA).

Existing Home Sales in March: 5.19 million SAAR, Inventory up 2.0% Year-over-year