Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lawler: Early Read on Existing Home Sales in August

by Bill McBride on 9/15/2015 04:27:00 PM

From housing economist Tom Lawler:

Based on publicly-released realtor/MLS reports from across the country released through today, I project that US existing home sales as estimated by the National Association of Realtors ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 5.54 million, down 0.9% from July’s preliminary pace (which I believe should be revised upward; see below), but up 10.8% from last July’s seasonally adjusted pace.

Local realtor/MLS reports also suggest that the NAR’s estimate of the inventory of existing home sales at the end of August should be down about 0.9% from July, and down about 4.7% from last August. Finally, local realtor/MLS data would suggest that the NAR’s estimate of the median existing SF home sales price in August was up by about from last August.

Post-Mortem on July’s Existing Home Sales Report: NAR’s Estimate of Sales in the South Seems Low

Last month the NAR estimated that US existing home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million in July – far above the “consensus” forecast but just slightly below my forecast based on realtor/MLS reports available prior to the EHS report. Based on more complete realtor/MLS reports for July, it appears to me that the NAR’s estimate for existing home sales in the South for July was too low. The NAR estimated that existing home sales on an unadjusted basis totaled 220,000 in the South in July, up 10% from the previous July’s pace. State and local realtor/MLS reports for that region, however, strongly suggest that the YOY sales gain in the South was several percentage points higher. To be sure, state realtor reports cover a significantly wider geographic area than does the NAR’s sample used to generate regional sales estimates (the NAR sample mainly includes just metro areas), and it is possible that the NAR’s estimate won’t be revised upward even though sales in the region clearly saw faster YOY growth than the NAR’s estimates suggest. But my “best guess” is that the NAR’s existing home sales estimate for July should be revised upward.

CR Note: The NAR release for August is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 21, 2015.